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Location of the United Kingdom (dark green)
|NSN length||7, 9, 10[notes 1]|
|Typical format||various, see text|
|Numbering plan||The National Telephone Numbering Plan|
|Last updated||20 December 2012|
|International call prefix||00|
|This article may be too long to read and navigate comfortably. (March 2013)|
Location of the United Kingdom (dark green)
|NSN length||7, 9, 10[notes 1]|
|Typical format||various, see text|
|Numbering plan||The National Telephone Numbering Plan|
|Last updated||20 December 2012|
|International call prefix||00|
The UK telephone numbering plan, also known as the National Telephone Numbering Plan, is the system used for assigning telephone numbers in the United Kingdom and its Crown dependencies. It is regulated by the UK government's Office of Communications (Ofcom), which holds responsibility for telecommunications.
Since 28 April 2001, almost all geographic numbers and most non-geographic numbers have 9 or 10 national (significant) numbers after the "0" trunk code. All mobile telephone numbers have 10 national (significant) numbers after the "0" trunk code. The overall structure of the UK's National Numbering Plan is:
|01||Geographic area codes.|
|02||Geographic area codes (introduced in 2000).|
|03||Nationwide non-geographic code, charged to caller at geographic area code rates (introduced 2007).|
These calls are included free in plans with "inclusive minutes", unlike 08 numbers, most of which can incur extra charges, depending on the operator.
|05||Corporate numbering and VoIP services (note: some VoIP services use 08 or geographic numbers). Freephone (toll free) on 0500.|
|06||Was reserved for possible use by Personal Numbering (PNS) instead of 070 following consumer confusion with mobile phones.|
|07||Mostly for mobile (cell) phones on 074xx, 075xx, 07624, 077xx, 078xx, and 079xx. WiFi numbers on 079112 and 079118. Personal Numbering on 070. Pagers on 076xx.|
|08||Freephone (toll free) on 080, and Special Services (formerly known as local and national rate) on 084 and 087.|
|09||Premium Rate services (PRS).|
A short sample of geographic numbers, set out in the officially approved (Ofcom) number groups:
|(020) xxxx xxxx||London|
|(029) xxxx xxxx||Cardiff|
|(0113) xxx xxxx||Leeds|
|(0116) xxx xxxx||Leicester|
|(0131) xxx xxxx||Edinburgh|
|(0151) xxx xxxx||Liverpool|
In the United Kingdom, area codes are two, three, four, or, rarely, five digits long (after the initial zero). Regions with shorter area codes, typically large cities, permit the allocation of more telephone numbers as the local number portion has more digits. Local customer numbers are four to eight figures long. The total number of digits is ten, but in a very few areas the total may be nine digits (after the initial zero). The "area code" is also referred to as an "STD (code)" (subscriber trunk dialling) or a "dialling code" in the UK.
The code allocated to the largest population is (020) for London. The code allocated to the largest area is (028) for all of Northern Ireland. The UK Numbering Plan also applies to three British Crown dependencies—Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man—even though they are not part of the UK itself.
For dialling the United Kingdom from overseas, Ofcom and ITU-T recommendation E.123 states that numbers be written in the form:
|+44 20 xxxx xxxx||London|
|+44 29 xxxx xxxx||Cardiff|
|+44 113 xxx xxxx||Leeds|
|+44 116 xxx xxxx||Leicester|
|+44 131 xxx xxxx||Edinburgh|
|+44 151 xxx xxxx||Liverpool|
|+44 1382 xxxxxx||Dundee|
|+44 1386 xxxxxx||Evesham|
|+44 1865 xxxxxx||Oxford|
|+44 1792 xxxxxx||Swansea|
|+44 1204 xxxxx||Bolton|
|+44 15396 xxxxx||Sedbergh|
|+44 16977 xxxx||Brampton|
It is common to see the form +44 (0)xxx xxx xxxx used instead (with an additional zero in brackets). This form is not recommended by Ofcom because it might confuse the reader. Callers within the United Kingdom replace the +44 with the number zero (0). Calling +44 0xxx xxx xxxx will not work from most operators. It is therefore recommended to show the number in either the national or the international format, but not a mixture of both formats. The international format shows only those digits that overseas callers must dial.
Storing any UK telephone number in a mobile phone, or directly dialling it from the keypad, in the correct +44 <area code> <local number> international format (without the leading zero) allows the number to work when the mobile is calling out from any country of the world, including whilst still located within the UK. The "plus" sets the number type to international and so no International Access Code is required.
Possible number formats for UK telephone numbers are as follows:
|NSN length||10 digits||9 digits||7 digits|
|Number formats||(01xxxx) xxxxx[notes 2]|
(01xxx) xxxxxx[notes 3]
(01x1) xxx xxxx
(011x) xxx xxxx
(02x) xxxx xxxx
03xx xxx xxxx
055 xxxx xxxx
056 xxxx xxxx
070 xxxx xxxx
076 xxxx xxxx
0800 xxx xxxx
08xx xxx xxxx
09xx xxx xxxx
|(016977) xxxx[notes 2]|
(01xxx) xxxxx[notes 3]
0845 46 4x
Number ranges starting 01 can have NSN length as 10 or 9 digits. The 0800 range can have NSN length as 10, 9 or 7 digits. The 0845 range can have NSN length as 10 or 7 digits. The 0500 range has NSN length as 9 digits only. There are no telephone numbers in the UK with an NSN length of 8 digits.
Geographic telephone numbers in the UK always have nine or ten digits.
Four-digit area codes have either six-digit subscriber numbers or a mix of five- and six-digit subscriber numbers.
This is the format used by most areas. It has a four-digit area code (after the initial zero) and a six digit subscriber number, and is known as 4+6 format. These area codes were changed by adding a "1" directly after the initial zero as a part of PhONEday in 1995. Just short of 581 areas use this format, and the area codes range from 01200 to 01998 (except those that match the pattern 1x1 after the initial zero). A small number of these areas also have a few subscriber numbers that have only five digits (see next section). That is, almost all (01xxx) area codes now have only six digit local numbers, e.g. (a small selection)
|01224||Aberdeen||22 = AB|
|01244||Chester||24 = CH|
|01382||Dundee||38 = DU|
|01387||Dumfries (mixed)||38 = DU||local numbers cannot begin with 3|
|01429||Hartlepool||42 = HA|
|01482||Hull||48 = HU|
|01539||Kendal (mixed)||53 = KE||local numbers cannot begin with 4, 5 or 6|
|01582||Luton||58 = LU|
|01670||Morpeth||67 = MP|
|01697||Brampton, North West (mixed)||69 = NW||local numbers cannot begin with 3, 4 or 7|
|01730||Petersfield||73 = PE|
|01736||Penzance||73 = PE|
|01772||Preston||77 = PR|
|01853||Ullapool||85 = UL|
|01947||Whitby||94 = WH|
Six of the four-digit area codes are known as "mixed" areas as they share those four digits with the twelve five-digit area codes. This leads to a restriction as to which initial digits can be used for subscriber numbers within those four-digit area codes, e.g. in the 01387 four-digit area code, subscriber numbers cannot begin with a 3 because 013873 is a separate five-digit area code; likewise in the 01946 four-digit area code, subscriber numbers cannot begin with a 7 because 019467 is a separate five-digit area code.
This is used for forty smaller towns where some subscriber numbers within the area code have only five digits[notes 3] and is known as 4+5 format. The numbers therefore have only nine digits after the initial zero trunk code. These area codes were changed by adding a "1" directly after the initial zero as a part of PhONEday in 1995. These towns always have a mixture of six and five digit local numbers, each type allocated in specific DE blocks; e.g. in the 01647 area code numbers beginning 24xxx and 61xxx have five digits whereas all other DE blocks within that area code are allocated as six digit numbers. The number of places with five digit subscriber numbers and an 01xxx area code has declined rapidly in recent decades. There were 511 ranges allocated across 56 different area codes in January 1998. The Big Number Change removed many, especially in Northern Ireland, and by July 2005 there were only 329 ranges in 42 codes. By April 2010 this had reduced to 324 ranges in 40 codes, with the same number still in use in November 2012. The 40 area codes are listed in the table below.
|01204||Bolton||20 = BO||61-64|
|01208||Bodmin||20 = BO||72-79|
|01254||Blackburn||25 = BL||51-57, 59|
|01276||Camberley||27 = CR||20-29, 31-38, 61-66|
|01297||Axminster||29 = AX||20-24, 32-35|
|01298||Buxton||29 = BX||22-28, 70-74, 77-79, 83-85|
|01363||Crediton||36 = CN||82-85|
|01364||Ashburton, Devon||36 = DN||72, 73|
|01384||Dudley||38 = DU||70, 74-79|
|01386||Evesham||38 = EV||40, 41, 45, 47-49|
|01404||Honiton||40 = HO||41-47|
|01420||Alton, Hampshire||42 = HA||22, 23, 80-89|
|01460||Chard, Ilminster||46 = IM||30, 52-55, 57, 61-68, 72-78|
|01461||Gretna||46 = GN||40|
|01480||Huntingdon||48 = HU||52|
|01488||Hungerford||48 = HU||71-73|
|01524||Lancaster (mixed)||52 = LA||32-37, 39, 60-69||local numbers cannot begin with 2|
|01562||Kidderminster||56 = KM||60, 66-69|
|01566||Launceston||56 = LN||86|
|01606||Northwich, Winsford||60 = NO||40-49, 74-77, 79|
|01629||Matlock||62 = MA||55-57|
|01635||Newbury||63 = NE||30-39, 40-49|
|01647||Moretonhampstead||64 = MH||24, 61|
|01659||Sanquhar, Nithsdale||65 = NL||50, 58, 66, 67, 74|
|01726||St Austell||72 = SA||61, 63-69, 70-77|
|01744||St Helens||74 = SH||20-29|
|01750||Selkirk||75 = SK||20-23, 32, 42, 52, 62, 76, 82|
|01768||Penrith (mixed)||76 = PN||882, 883, 884, 886, 887, 888||local numbers cannot begin with 3, 4 or 7|
|01827||Tamworth||82 = TA||50-59, 60-69|
|01837||Okehampton||52-55, 82, 83, 89|
|01884||Tiverton||88 = TV||32-35, 38|
|01900||Workington||90 = WO||61-68, 85|
|01905||Worcester||90 = WO||20-29|
|01935||Yeovil||93 = YE||83|
|01946||Whitehaven (mixed)||94 = WH||61-68||local numbers cannot begin with 7|
|01949||Whatton||94 = WH||20, 21, 81|
|01963||Wincanton||96 = WN||23, 31-34|
|01995||Garstang||99 = WY||61|
Three-digit area codes always have seven-digit subscriber numbers and always begin 011x or 01x1.
This is the geographic number format for the first round of five large cities moved to all figure dialling in the 1960s, and subsequently also used in the metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear, eastern County Durham and south-eastern Northumberland from the 1980s onwards. These six areas have a three-digit area code matching the pattern 1x1 (after the initial zero) and a seven digit subscriber number, and this is known as 3+7 format. These area codes were changed by adding a "1" directly after the initial zero as a part of PhONEday in 1995. The first three digits of the local number identifies a small area within the city.
|0121||Birmingham||formerly 021 (2 = B)|
|0131||Edinburgh||formerly 031 (3 = E)|
|0141||Glasgow||formerly 041 (4 = G)|
|0151||Liverpool||formerly 051 (5 = L)|
|0161||Manchester||formerly 061 (6 = M)|
|0171||Used for inner London until 2000|
|0181||Used for outer London until 2000|
|0191||County of Tyne and Wear, eastern County Durham,|
This is the geographic number format for the second round of large cities and towns moved to brand-new three-digit area codes. Five of these were moved in 1995 as a part of PhONEday. Reading followed a year later. At the time of the change, an extra digit was added to the subscriber number. These six areas have a three-digit area code matching the pattern 11x, with a seven-digit subscriber number, and this is known as 3+7 format. The first three digits of the local number identifies a small area within the town or city. Note that the former Reading area code had already been changed once, by adding a "1" directly after the initial zero as a part of PhONEday in 1995.
|0113||Leeds||formerly 0532 (53 = LE)|
|0114||Sheffield||formerly 0742 (74 = SH)|
|0115||Nottingham||formerly 0602 (60 = NO)|
|0116||Leicester||formerly 0533 (53 = LE)|
|0117||Bristol||formerly 0272 (27 = BR)|
|0118||Reading||formerly 01734 (73 = RE)|
Two-digit area codes always have eight-digit subscriber numbers and always begin 02.
This is the newest geographic number format. It is used for the third tier of large cities and for Northern Ireland, and was formed as a part of the Big Number Change in 2000. The new area code is much shorter than the old one, and begins 02 unlike the previous 01 area codes. Numbers in these five areas are commonly misquoted, e.g. London as 0207 or Cardiff as 02920. The numbers consist of a two-digit area code matching the pattern 02x, and an eight-digit subscriber number, and this is known as 2+8 format.
The first four digits of the local number identifies a small area within the town or city. At the time of the change, the subscriber part of the number gained an extra digit in London, those in Northern Ireland gained two or three digits, and the subscriber part of the number in the other areas gained two digits. All of these areas were also subject to a previous code change, one that added a "1" directly after the initial zero, as a part of PhONEday in 1995. The short area code is also known as a wide area code.
|020||London||(020) 3xxx xxxx new since 2005.|
(020) 7xxx xxxx formerly 0171 and
(020) 8xxx xxxx formerly 0181 (both 1995–2000),
071 and 081 (1990–1995), 01 (1960s-1990)
|023||Southampton||(023) 8xxx xxxx formerly 01703 (70 = SO)|
|Portsmouth||(023) 9xxx xxxx formerly 01705 (70 = PO)|
|024||Coventry||(024) 7xxx xxxx formerly 01203 (20 = CO)|
|028||Northern Ireland||(028) 25xx xxxx Ballymena formerly (01266) xxxxxx|
|(028) 28xx xxxx Larne formerly (01574) xxxxxx|
|(028) 37xx xxxx Armagh formerly (01861) xxxxxx|
|(028) 71xx xxxx Derry formerly (01504) xxxxxx|
|(028) 82xx xxxx Omagh formerly (01662) xxxxxx|
|(028) 90xx xxxx Belfast formerly (01232) xxxxxx|
|(028) 92xx xxxx Lisburn formerly (01846) xxxxxx|
|(028) 95xx xxxx Belfast new number range|
|029||Cardiff||(029) 2xxx xxxx formerly 01222 (22 = CA)|
Five-digit area codes have either five-digit subscriber numbers or a mix of four- and five-digit subscriber numbers. Five-digit area codes always share their first four digits with four-digit area codes.
This is the oldest geographic number format and is used for twelve smaller towns and villages where the subscriber number is either five or (in one area code) four digits long. These are known as 5+5 and 5+4 format.[notes 2] Note that therefore the STD code and the subscriber number does not always total ten digits after the initial zero trunk code. These area codes were changed by adding a "1" directly after the initial zero as a part of PhONEday in 1995. The number of places using these two formats has declined rapidly in recent decades and Brampton is the last place in the UK with four-digit local numbers.
The above twelve area codes and their six 'parent' area codes (01387, 01524, 01539, 01697, 01768 and 01946) are known as 'Mixed' areas due to multiple area codes sharing the same SABC digits.
These ranges have subscriber numbers beginning with the digits "0" or "1", e.g.:
|0141 005 xxxx||Glasgow|
|0117 101 xxxx||Bristol|
|0118 00x xxxx||Reading|
|020 0003 xxxx||London|
Currently, these numbers are mostly used as the termination points for non-geographic numbers, and by some automated systems such as alarms. As such they are not usually meant to be directly dialled. These numbers have been problematic as some mobile phone operators in the UK do not allow access to these ranges, and there may also be difficulty accessing these numbers from outside the UK. Regulator Ofcom proposes that in future these numbers be released for wider, general-purpose use in up to 70 area codes facing number shortage. In order to avoid confusion with codes beginning with these digits, the area code must always be dialled, even from within the same geographic exchange. Accordingly, if these numbers are eventually released for general use, Ofcom proposes completely removing the ability to dial locally without the area code in areas affected.
Individual mobile phone companies are allocated different ranges within the 074xx, 075xx, 07624, 077xx, 078xx and 079xx area codes. Changes to mobile phone numbers in the Big Number Change were mostly straight replacements, such as Vodafone customers on the 0378 block became 07778.
|074xx xxxxxx||Mobile phones (in use since November 2009)|
|075xx xxxxxx||Mobile phones (in use since May 2007)|
|07624 xxxxxx||mobile phones on the Isle of Man|
|077xx xxxxxx||Mobile phones (former 03xx and 04xx—mostly Vodafone and O2 (formerly Cellnet))|
|078xx xxxxxx||Mobile phones (former 05xx, 06xx and 08xx—mostly Vodafone and O2 (formerly Cellnet))|
|079xx xxxxxx||Mobile phones (former 09xx—mostly Orange and T-Mobile (formerly one2one))|
|WiFi numbers (used by companies such as Tovo and Mobiboo)|
Since the advent of Mobile number portability, mobile phone number prefixes can no longer be relied on to determine the current operator of a particular mobile phone – only the original operator.
Calls to mobile telephone numbers registered in Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man often cost more than calling UK-based mobile phones.
070 and 076 numbers are often charged at a much higher rate than calling the similar-looking 07xxx mobile telephone numbers.
|070 xxxx xxxx||Personal Numbering|
|076 xxxx xxxx||Pagers (excluding 07624, used for mobile phones on the Isle of Man)|
Personal numbers beginning 070 are regulated by PhonepayPlus.
On 27 July 2006, Ofcom announced that companies will soon be able to use an "03" non-geographic number, in place of other non-geographic numbers (such as 0870 or 0845 numbers). Callers would be charged at the same rate as if they were calling a geographic number (01 or 02). This means that customers who are benefiting from "free" minutes on mobile phones or landlines would also be able to call these numbers using their inclusive minutes. On 13 February 2007, Ofcom released more details on their plans for the 03 range and announced that allocations of 03 numbers to providers would begin in March 2007. Whilst 01, 02 and 07 numbers can receive text messages, currently the majority of cellular network providers do not support the sending of text messages to 03 numbers. Three different ranges of numbers were announced; those beginning 030x are reserved for qualifying public bodies and non-profit organisations, those beginning 033x, which are available for allocation to anyone, and those beginning 034x and 037x which will be used for migration from the matching 084x and 087x number ranges respectively. Ofcom itself began using 03 numbers on 13 November 2007 for public use.
|030x xxx xxxx||For qualifying public bodies and non-profit organisations as defined by Ofcom|
|033x xxx xxxx||For any end user|
|034x xxx xxxx||Migration range for operators who have 084x numbers|
|037x xxx xxxx||Migration range for operators who have 087x numbers|
Unlike 03 numbers there is no uniform pricing for 05 numbers; BT charge a number of different rates depending on the number dialled. Some are charged at geographic rate, others not. Other operators are not required to charge the same rates as BT for calling 05 numbers.
|055 xxxx xxxx||Corporate Numbering (but also used by BT for its Broadband Voice service)|
|056 xxxx xxxx||Allocated by Ofcom for LIECS (Location Independent Electronic Communications Services), e.g. VoIP services|
The 0500 range is used for some freephone services which were originally provided by Mercury Communications Ltd (now Cable & Wireless Worldwide). These numbers are different from the rest of the 05 range in that they are only 9 digits in length after the 0 trunk code, e.g. 0500 007 007 (NS&I, National Savings and Investments), 0500 2 88 2 91 (BBC Radio 2, 88 to 91 FM), 0500 600 600 (Crimewatch), 0500 600 700 (Watchdog), and 0500 909 693 (BBC Radio Five Live, 909 and 693 kHz). Numerous universities, government departments, airlines, banks and businesses also use these numbers. They were allocated before the general trend of using longer numbers started in 1997 and long before the rest of the 05 range was assigned to corporate and VoIP numbering after 2000.
|0500 xxxxxx[notes 4]||Special Services - No charge to Customer a.k.a. "Freephone"||Free to call from landline, up to 40p per minute from mobile.|
In October 2012, Ofcom started a consultation proposing to remove the 0500 freephone allocation.
|0800 xxxxxx[notes 5]||Special Services - No charge to Customer a.k.a. "Freephone"||Free to call from landline, up to 40p per minute from mobile. Calls to certain charity and similar services are free from most mobiles.|
0808 9xx xxxx numbers are used by freephone internet services.
|0800 xxx xxxx|
|0808 xxx xxxx|
There is one very short "special" number in this range, 0800 1111 for Childline.
Additionally, numbers in the range 0808 80x xxxx are reserved for not-for-profit helplines and as such are usually free to call from most mobile telephones. A number of other numbers can also called for free from mobiles, but this varies by network.
With the exception of 080x freephone numbers, 08xx numbers are charged above geographic rates, with some of the extra revenue going to the terminating telco. This additional revenue may be shared with the subscriber, but is often used instead to subsidise additional network services, such as fax to email, virtual office applications, call queuing, voicemail and easy number redirection. None of these call management services is exclusive to 08xx numbers, and they could be provided on any number range.
|0845 xxx xxxx||Special Services basic rate||Up to 5p a minute, varies daytime/evening/weekend, from BT landline, other providers may charge more; up to 42p a minute from mobiles.|
|0844 00x xxxx||Special Services basic rate||Non-BT Discount Scheme - Internet Services incorporating un-metered access up to and including 5p for BT customers|
|0844 01x xxxx|
0844 09x xxxx
|0844 1xx xxxx||currently unused|
|0844 2xx xxxx|
0844 9xx xxxx
|Up to 4.26p a minute (plus VAT), varies daytime/evening/weekend, from BT landline, other providers may charge more; up to 42p a minute from mobiles.|
|0843 xxx xxxx||Up to 4.26p a minute (plus VAT), but fixed (e.g. always 3p/minute or always 4p/minute) from BT landline, other providers may charge more; up to 42p a minute from mobiles.|
|0842 xxx xxxx||Up to 4.26p a minute (plus VAT), but fixed (e.g. always 3p/minute or always 4p/minute) from BT landline, other providers may charge more; up to 42p a minute from mobiles.|
There is one very short "special" number in this range, 0845 46 47 for NHS Direct.
|0870 xxx xxxx||Non-Geographic Number||Up to 8p a minute (plus VAT), varies daytime/evening/weekend (charged at no more than the caller would pay for a call to a Geographic Number) from landline; up to 42p a minute from mobiles.|
|0871 0xx xxxx||Special Services higher rate||Internet Services metered access up to and including 10p a minute for BT customers|
|0871 1xx xxxx||currently unused|
|0871 2xx xxxx|
0871 9xx xxxx
|Up to 8.5p a minute (plus VAT) but fixed (e.g. always 6p/minute or always 8.5p/minute) from BT landline, other providers may charge more; up to 50p a minute from mobiles.|
|0872 xxx xxxx||Up to 8.5p a minute (plus VAT) but fixed (e.g. always 6p/minute or always 8.5p/minute) from BT landline, other providers may charge more; up to 50p a minute from mobiles.|
|0873 xxx xxxx||Up to 8.5p a minute (plus VAT) but fixed (e.g. always 6p/minute or always 8.5p/minute) from BT landline, other providers may charge more; up to 50p a minute from mobiles.|
There is widespread confusion about the cost of calling 084 and 087 numbers. They often do not qualify for discounts and bundled minutes, and can be prohibitively expensive when called from mobiles and payphones. More affordable equivalent numbers can often be found via www.saynoto0870.com. Many major companies persist in misdescribing them as "Local Rate", "Lo Call" or "National Rate" for which the Advertising Standards Authority can take action.
In the future, it is likely that users of 084 and 087 numbers will have to declare the service charge element of the call cost when advertising their phone number, whilst telecoms companies will need to inform their customers about their access charge for calling each number range. Additionally, the forthcoming European Union led Consumer Rights Directive will mean that many users of 084 and 087 numbers will no longer be allowed to use them. The directive bans the usage of numbers that cost more than calling a geographic number for customer service and complaints lines and other such purposes.
|0820 xxx xxxx||Special Services: Internet for schools|
|0899 9xx xxxx||Inbound routing codes|
Numbers in the 09xx range are charged at the highest rates of any calls within the United Kingdom, and are controlled by various regulations regarding their use. The regulator is PhonepayPlus, formerly known as ICSTIS (and they also cover 070 (PNS), 0871, 0872, 0873 and 118xxx (DQ) services). There are a large number of charge bands, some with high pence-per-minute rates, others with a high fixed-price for the entire call.
|090x xxx xxxx||Premium rate content services (PRS)|
|0908 xxx xxxx|
0909 xxx xxxx
|Sexual entertainment services (SES) (not available for new allocations)|
|091x xxx xxxx||Premium rate non-content services (PRS)|
|098x xxx xxxx||Sexual entertainment services (SES)|
The earlier unused 092x xxx xxxx - 099x xxx xxxx allocation for "Broadband Internet Services" no longer exists and was removed from the number plan in 2005.
Although calls from UK landlines to landlines in the islands are charged at the same rate as those to other UK landlines (i.e. they are not treated as international calls), calls may be excluded from calling plans offering unlimited UK fixed line calls.
Mobile operators may also charge more for calls to the islands and these calls are usually excluded from calling plans. Calls and SMS messages sent to island mobile phone numbers are not charged at the same rate as calls to UK mobile phone numbers.
|(01481) xxxxxx||Fixed line||48 = GU|
|(01481) 832xxx||Fixed line (Sark)|
|07781 xxxxxx||Sure mobile phones and pagers|
|07839 xxxxxx||Airtel Vodafone mobile phones|
|07911 xxxxxx||Wave Telecom mobile phones, not for UK|
This area code is also used for Alderney and Sark.
|(01534) xxxxxx||Fixed line||53 = JE|
|07509 xxxxxx||Jersey Telecom mobile phones and pagers|
|07700 xxxxxx||Sure mobile network|
|07829 xxxxxx||Airtel Vodafone mobile network|
Several Jersey companies also have non-geographic numbers allocated.
|(01624) xxxxxx||Fixed line||62 = MA|
|07624 xxxxxx||Mobile phones and paging services|
|07524 xxxxxx||Mobile phones additional capacity|
On the Isle of Man, both fixed (01624) and mobile phone (07624) numbers can be dialled locally in the six-digit format.
Ofcom has also reserved certain number ranges for use in television dramas and films, so as to avoid the risk of people having their telephone numbers displayed, and receiving unwanted calls. This is similar to the use of fictitious telephone numbers in the United States and Canada with the digits 555.
In most of the large cities with three-digit area codes a range of numbers is reserved, usually all the numbers starting with the digits 496. For fictitious numbers in other areas the area code 01632 is reserved; this code is not in use, although 0632 was used for Newcastle upon Tyne until the late 1980s (63 = NE) and briefly reallocated for use by premium rate services in the 1990s. There are also reserved ranges for fictitious mobile, freephone, and premium rate numbers.
The Post Office even produced dial centre labels for use in advertisements and film/TV with a mythical exchange called VINcent plus four digits. The numerical equivalent of VIN was 846 and all the caller got was the speaking clock (i.e. 846 is also numerical equivalent of TIM) in the big city "Director" areas.
At around the same time as the other Big Number Change changes, Ofcom revised their recommendations to update the prefixes, add additional areas, and increase the size of the allocation from 10 to 1000 numbers per block. Those changes are listed in the Big Number Change article.
The UK has two free emergency numbers—the traditional 999, which is still widely used, and the EU standard 112, which can be used in all member states of the European Union. Both 999 and 112 are used to contact all emergency services: Police, Fire Service, Ambulance Service, Mountain Rescue, Coastguard and Cave Rescue.
Both numbers can be called from mobile phones with the keylock on, or without entering the PIN where that would otherwise be required. Although some mobile phones allow emergency calls to be attempted without a SIM card, at present the UK networks reject such calls. Since November 2009, an emergency call can be made through any UK mobile network as long as there is a SIM for any valid UK network in the handset. More information about the 112 emergency number can be found at the 112 : The European emergency number web site.
The chargeable number 101 was introduced for non-urgent crime and community safety calls on a trial basis in 2006. In Wales, the scheme was taken forward by all four police forces, who adopted the number for non-emergency calls on a permanent basis in early 2009. In England the scheme was on trial until 2012, when it was adopted nationwide and the cost to call changed from 10p per call to 15p per call.
The operator is obtained via 100 from landlines, while directory enquiries, formerly 192, is now provided in the 118xxx range, e.g. 118 212, 118 800, 118 500, 118 118, by different companies. International Operator assistance is reached through 155.
From early 2010, the pan-European 116 number range came into use for social helplines. The first three numbers allocated were Missing People using 116 000 for a missing children helpline, the NSPCC ChildLine on 116 111, and Samaritans using 116 123 for an emotional support helpline. A recent consultation for the numbers 116 106 and 116 117 has yet to see any result.
The National Health Service (NHS) can be reached on 111 for non-emergency calls. In other European countries the number 116 117 is used for a similar purpose.
Since the mid-1990s speaking clock services have been available throughout Britain using the number 123. Before this, exchanges in "Director" areas (Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Manchester) dialled 846 (TIM) (later changing to 123) and main exchanges in "Non-Director" areas originally used "952", later changing to "80" with the introduction of STD and eventually to "8081" as other recorded services were introduced on 80X1 codes. Some mobile operators allocate other services to 123—such as customer services or voicemail etc.
Short codes beginning with 1 are reserved for telecom service providers' own functionality; some of the most well-known are codes for use with Caller Display:
|141||Withhold number||when normally released|
|1470||Release number||when normally withheld|
|1471||Call return||caller may press 3 to return call on most networks|
|1475||1471 erasure||removes details of last call from 1471 service|
|1571||Voicemail service||For people who do not have answering machines.|
If there is a new message, the dial tone will be stuttered.
Fixed line telephone subscribers for BT, Virgin Media, SkyTalk Sky and TalkTalk have the opportunity to use an automated messaging service which takes messages when the called number is either engaged ("busy") or not answered within a given time. This can be accessed by calling 1571.
For fixed line users, it is possible to override the carrier pre-selection (CPS) on a per-call basis, dialing a special code before the number, e.g. 1280 for BT, 1664 for LowerCall, or 1844 for Daisy. Ofcom defines the range for these as: "124 to 140, 143 to 146, 148 to 149, 160 to 169, and 181 to 189 inclusive. Numbers of up to 5-digits used to access an Indirect Access Provider (‘Type B Access Codes’)".
The telephone service in the United Kingdom was originally provided by private companies and local councils. But by 1912–13 all except the telephone service of Kingston upon Hull and Guernsey had been bought out by the Post Office. The Post Office also operated telephone services in Jersey until 1923 and the Isle of Man until 1969 when the islands took over responsibility for their own postal and telephone services – although the Isle of Man system remained part of British Telecom until 1987.
Post Office Telecommunications was reorganised in 1980–81 as British Telecommunications (British Telecom, or BT), and was the first major nationalised industry to be privatised by the Conservative government. The Hull Telephone Department was itself reconstituted as Kingston Communications, in 1987; it was sold by Hull City Council in the late 1990s and celebrated its centenary in 2004.
In November 1922 the General Post Office decided to adopt the Strowger system from the various systems it had tried and it was to include "Directors" in the exchanges in London. Demonstration models of the "Director" exchange were shown by manufacturer ATM of Liverpool as part of the Post Office exhibits at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1924 and 1925. However, it was not until 1927 that the first "Director" telephone exchange was brought into service in Holborn, London and rolled out progressively across Greater London. A 3 digit code, represented by letters, identified the local exchange. Director schemes were gradually introduced in the other major cities of the UK — Birmingham, Edinburgh (although a relatively small city, it obtained seven-figure dialling for political reasons), Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester.
Subscriber Trunk Dialling (STD) was introduced in 1958 to allow a caller to call another telephone directly instead of via a manual telephone exchange operator. Uniform exchange codes, usually called STD codes, were allocated for every exchange in the country, progressively as STD was rolled out. This process was not completed until 1979.
The original concept was for STD to be a nationwide Director system, and in common with the Director system, the exchange codes were originally assigned based on two letters of the respective place's name and the corresponding numbers on a telephone dial. For example Aylesbury was given the STD code 0AY6, where the letter A can be found on the number 2 and the letter Y on the number 9. The letter O became a zero, such as for Bournemouth: 0BO2 where BO = 20. Originally, where a place's name began with the letter "O" the code would begin with two zeros, such as Oxford: 0OX2 where OX = 09. These codes starting with "00" were later reallocated, freeing the prefix 00 for use by calls to the Republic of Ireland, to radiophones and to premium rate numbers.
Within a single code group area there would usually be multiple exchange buildings in various locations. The smaller exchanges might have only a few hundred lines with three-digit subscriber numbers, e.g. 200–499. Larger exchanges might have a few thousand lines with four-digit subscriber numbers, e.g. 2000–5999. The main exchange in the group would usually have five-digit subscriber numbers e.g. 20000–49999.
Population growth over the next few decades meant there was a need for more lines. This would see an exchange with existing three-digit numbers open one or more new ranges with four-digit local numbers (e.g. 5000-6999), and exchanges with existing four-digit numbers open one or more new ranges with five-digit local numbers (e.g. 60000–69999).
Since number ranges were being reused in each local exchange within a group, a series of short codes was devised to allow dialling from one local exchange to another without the need to dial the full STD code. These short codes usually began with a 7, 8 or 9. The code was often only two or three digits, but might be up to five digits long.
The last digit of this short code would usually also feature as extra digits on the end of the main STD code in order to differentiate each satellite exchange within a group when dialling from another STD code area. In written form these area codes were split after the third digit to highlight this satellite exchange numbering.
e.g. for 0799, Saffron Walden (SW)
|(0799) xxxxx||Saffron Walden|
|(079 982) xxx|
|(079 983) xxx|
|(079 984) xxx||Ashdon|
|(079 985) xxx|
|(079 986) xxx||Great Sampford|
|(079 987) xxx||Radwinter|
|(079 988) xxx||Rickling|
As time wore on and number shortages became more acute, local numbers were gradually converted to five-figure or six-figure numbers, and the STD code changed to the (0xxx) format. In many cases the initial digits of the new local number would be formed from digits previously at the end of the old STD code e.g. Newport (079 982) 5678 became Saffron Walden (0799) 825678, nowadays (01799) 825678. The local number would be padded with extra fixed digits (if needed) to make up the new total length e.g. Clavering (079 985) 345 became Saffron Walden (0799) 850345, nowadays (01799) 850345. In some cases the initial digits were changed e.g. Radwinter (079 987) 456 became Saffron Walden (0799) 500456, nowadays (01799) 500456.
Post 2000, only a dozen places have long STD codes with five-digit local numbers. One area with a long STD code retains four-digit local numbering. Long STD codes are rare. Many people are not familiar with the (0xx xx), nowadays (01xx xx) format; or the now discontinued (0xx xxx) format, and often omit the space in written form.
The director areas used a shorter area code, usually in the form 0x1 (01 for London) with a 7-digit local subscriber number. These were:
|01||London||Until 1990—see below|
|021||Birmingham||(2 = B)|
|031||Edinburgh||(3 = E)|
|041||Glasgow||(4 = G)|
|051||Liverpool||(5 = L)|
|061||Manchester||(6 = M)|
The codes 071, 081, and 091 were reserved for later expansion, with the former two eventually being temporarily allocated to London (see below).
In 1968, area codes beginning 00 were changed.
|New area code|
|Area code name||Old area code|
|0301||Arrochar||0022 (OC)||Arrochar & Lochgoilhead, Dunbarton|
|0572||Oakham||0023 (OA)||Oakham (Rutland), Leics.|
|0631||Oban||0024 (OB)||Oban, Argyll|
|0651||Oldmeldrum||0055 (OL)||Newmachar & Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire.|
|0656||Bridgend, Ogmore Vale||0042 (OG)||Ogmore, Bridgend, Mid Glam|
|0662||Omagh||0063 (OM)||Omagh, Tyrone, Northern Ireland|
|0689||Orpington||0072 (OR)||Orpington & Farnborough, Kent|
|0691||Oswestry (69 = OW)||0073 (OS)||Oswestry, Salop|
|0695||Ormskirk||0074 (OR)||Ormskirk, Lancs|
|0801||Thrapston, Oundle||0085 (OU)||Thrapston, Northants|
|0830||Kirkwhelpington, Otterburn||0086 (OT)||Otterburn, Northumberland|
|0832||Clopton, Oundle||0082 (OU)||Oundle, Northants|
|0837||Okehampton||0052 (OK)||Okehampton, Devon|
|0850||Callanish, Lewis, Outer Hebrides||0040 (OH)||Lewis, Hebrides|
|0044 ()||Isle of Lewis, Hebrides|
|0851||Great Bernera and Stornoway, Outer Hebrides||0041 (OH)|
|0852||Kilmelford, Oban||0025 (OB)|
|0852||Kilmelford||0026 (OB)||Kilmelford group|
|0027 (OB)||Kilmelford, Argyll (Oban)|
|0855||Ballachulish, Onich||0062 (ON)||Ballachulish Group|
|0062 ()||Kinlochleven & Fort William, Argyll|
|-||no replacement||0075 (OR)||Ormskirk, Lancs, outer areas|
|0856||Orkney||0076 (OR)||Orkney Islands (Kirkwall)|
|0857||Sanday, Orkney||0077 (OR)||Orkney Islands (Eday, N. Orkney)|
|-||no replacement||0078 (OR)||Orkney Islands (Kirkwall)|
|0859||Harris, Outer Hebrides||0046 (OH)|
|0865||Oxford (86 = UN[iversity])||0092 (OX)||Oxford|
|0866||Kilchrenan, Oban||0025 (OB)|
|0025 ()||Taynuilt, Argyll|
|0867||Oxford||0096 (OX)||Oxford, outer areas|
|0869||Bicester, Oxfordshire||0095 (OX)||Bicester, Oxon|
|0870||Isle of Benbecula, Outer Hebrides||0047 (OH)||Barra or Benbecula, Hebrides|
|0871||Castlebay, Outer Hebrides||0047 (OH)||(Isle of Barra Group)|
|0876||Lochmaddy, Outer Hebrides||0047 (OH)|
|0878||Lochboisdale, Outer Hebrides||0047 (OH)|
|0883||Caterham, Oxted||0093 (OX)||Oxted, Caterham, Surrey|
|0959||Westerham, Otford||0083 (OT)|
Codes beginning 00 were also used for premium rate numbers or as a short code for dialling calls to various places in the Republic of Ireland over the next few decades.
The use of names was intended to provide a mnemonic for the exchange in the same way as for the Director system, but as more and more places were given STD codes the mnemonic link became more and more obscure, and this system became unworkable. Also, international direct dialling was being introduced and as other countries (such as the USA) had different assignments of letters to digits the opportunity for confusion existed.
An earlier modification to get round this problem for European dialling was the addition of the letter Q to the digit 0, which previously represented only the letter O. This was because some French exchanges had alphabetic codes including Q, but in the event France moved to all-digit codes before direct dialling from the UK was introduced.
The use of alphabetic exchange (area) codes was abandoned in the UK in 1966 in favour of all figure numbering. As such about 60% of current area codes are still based on the original alphabetic STD.
Around 1982, the 091 code was also brought into use:
|091||Tyne and Wear and Durham||See article 0191 for migration details.|
Until the mid-1980s freephone numbers could be accessed only by ringing the operator on 100 and asking to be connected, e.g. Freephone 8963 for BT customer service. Later on, the 0800 code came into use for freephone services. These numbers often had only 7 digits, e.g. 0800 1111 for ChildLine.
From around 1980, calls to Radiophones could also be direct dialled.
These covered only a small part of the country. The 0035 and 0038 codes were added later.
In the 1980s, these other allocations were also in use:
Until the late 1980s, calls to major towns and cities in the Republic of Ireland could also be made using short codes starting with 000:
This was discontinued in the late 1980s, so that all calls to the Republic of Ireland from the UK had to be dialled in the normal international format using the international access code (initially 010 until 1995, and then 00) and country code (353).
Calls could also be made using the full international dialling code since the introduction of International Direct Dialling.
While most of the Republic of Ireland could be direct dialled, a small number of rural areas did not have an automated telephone service until the 1980s. As a result, calls from the UK to these areas had to be made through the BT operator who connected the calls to their Irish counterpart for completion. Unlike other international calls, these were handled by the BT national operator, in the same way as UK operator calls. This service was withdrawn at noon on 28 May 1987 when the last manual exchange in Ireland, at Mountshannon, County Clare, was switched over to an Alcatel E10 digital exchange. This completed Telecom Eireann's rural digitalisation project.
Although full international dialling is now used, calls from Northern Ireland landlines to landlines in the Republic are charged at UK national or local rates, and calls from Great Britain to the Republic are charged at a special "Republic of Ireland" rate, higher than inland rates, but lower than those for elsewhere in Western Europe. Additionally, calls to Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland can be made without an international access code, but instead replacing the British 028 prefix not with the conventional international prefix 00 44 28 but with a shorter Irish 048 area code which specifically covers Northern Ireland. For example, calling Belfast from London would be 028 9xxx xxxx while calling Belfast from Dublin would be 048 9xxx xxxx.
Area codes for mobile phone, local rate, premium rate and other such special numbers originally used ordinary looking area codes in the 02xx to 09xx range. In the early 1980s only a few such codes were in use. Rapid expansion of these services in the late 1980s required many new codes, but there were a diminishing number of codes available for use. In order to free up space for these services, 30 geographic ABC area codes with low number use were condensed into 14 ABC ranges such that each numeric area code would cover multiple charge groups (these migration figures do not include the similar 091 area code changes).
Numbers in Barrow-in-Furness already used (0229) 2 and (0229) 5. Millom used the separate 0657 area code. Millom numbers were transferred to the 0229 area code. Millom numbers would begin (0229) 3 and (0229) 7 and have 6 digits.
Under the new "ELNS" (Extended Linked Numbering Scheme) arrangement, two charge groups now share the same area code and the leading digit of the local number indicates which charge group the number belongs to. The new area code retains both of the old area code names. A diagram showing the principle is shown on page 9 of Oftel's telephone numbering guide and these areas are shown in the table below. Some ELNS areas combined three charge groups. Calls within the area code do not require the area code to be dialled, this is true even for calls between the charge groups.
|"ELNS" area code (1990s)||"ELNS" area code name (1990s)||Local number length||Local numbers begin (1990s)||Old area code (1980s)||Old code re-use in 1990s||Moved to new code in 2001|
|091||Tyneside||7||2, 4||0632 Newcastle upon Tyne (NE)||0632 Premium rate||09xx x|
|Durham||7||3||0385 Durham (DU)||0385 Vodafone mobile||07785|
|Tyneside||7||4||0894 Tyneside (TY)||0894 Premium rate||09xx x|
|Sunderland||7||5||0783 Sunderland (SU)||??|
|0229||Barrow-in-Furness (BA)||6||4, 5, 6, 8||0229 Barrow-in-Furness (BA)||-||-|
|Millom||6||7||0657 Millom (ML)||??|
|0339||Aboyne||6||8||0339 Deeside (DE)||-||-|
|Ballater||6||7||0338 Deeside (DE)||0338 Premium rate||09xx x|
|0388||Bishop Auckland||6||3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9||0388 Durham (DU)||-||-|
|Stanhope||6||5||0956 Weardale (WL)||0956 1-6,8-9 One2One mobile||07956 x|
|0956 7 FleXtel||070 107|
|0423||Boroughbridge||6||3, 9||0901 Boroughbridge, Yorkshire (YO)||??|
|Harrogate (HA)||6||2, 5, 7, 8||0423 Harrogate (HA)||-||-|
|0430||Market Weighton||6||8||0696 Market Weighton (MW)||0696 Premium rate||09xx x|
|North Cave||6||4||0430 ., Howden (HD)||-||-|
|0434||Bellingham||6||2||0660 Bellingham, Northumberland (NM)||0660 Premium rate||09xx x|
|0660 Premium rate||076 61|
|Haltwhistle||6||3||0498 Haltwhistle (HW)||0498 Vodafone mobile||07798|
|Hexham (HE)||6||6, 7, 8||0434 Hexham (HE)||-||-|
|0437||Clynderwen [Clunderwen]||6||5||0991 Clynderwen, West Wales (WW)||0991 Premium rate||09xx x|
|Haverfordwest (HF)||6||7, 8, 9||0437 Haverfordwest (HF)||-||-|
|0507||Alford (Lincs)||6||4, 8||0521 Alford, Lincolnshire (LC)||??|
|Louth (LO)||6||3, 6||0507 Louth (LO)||-||-|
|Spilsby (Horncastle)||6||5||0658 Mareham le Fen (ML)||??|
|0686||Llanidloes||6||4||0551 Llanidloes (LL)||??|
|Newtown (NT)||6||6, 8||0686 Newtown (NT)||-||-|
|0847||Thurso (TH)||6||5, 8||0847 Thurso (TH)||-||-|
|Tongue||6||6||0800 Tongue (TO)||0800 Freephone||0800|
|0851||Great Bernera||6||6||0850 Callanish, Lewis, Outer Hebrides||0850 Cellnet mobile||07850|
|Stornoway||6||7, 8||0851 Stornoway, Outer Hebrides||-||-|
|0890||Ayton [Eyemouth]||6||7||0390 Eyemouth (EY)||0390 Orange mobile||07790|
|Coldstream||6||2, 3, 8||0890 Coldstream, Tweed (TW)||-||-|
|0964||Hornsea||6||5||0401 Hornsea (HO)||0401 Cellnet mobile||07701|
|Patrington||6||6||0964 Patrington, Withernsea (WN)||-||-|
|0975||Alford (Aberdeen) [Deeside]||6||5||0336 Deeside (DE)||0336 Premium rate||09xx x?|
|Strathdon||6||6||0975 Strathdon, Water (WR)||-||-|
Of the 16 area codes freed up for alternative use in the 1980s, at least 11 were re-used for other services. For example, the 0401 area code was re-allocated to Cellnet mobile services. Five of the area codes remained unused. In 1995, the PhONEday changes for geographic numbers solved the number shortage problem for mobile and non-geographic services by freeing up the whole 07, 08 and 09 range for their use from 2000 onwards.
On PhONEday in 1995, 0229 became 01229 and 0964 became 01964 and these codes are still in use today. The remainder of the "ELNS" area code allocations and their history are detailed in the table below.
The Cellnet mobile 0401 allocation stayed in use for about a decade before these numbers were transferred to the 07701 range in the Big Number Change in 2000. Nowadays all 16 of the area codes freed up in the 1980s (albeit now with a 1 prefix, e.g. 0401 is now 01401) remain unused and are available for future geographic expansion.
Area codes for mobile phone, local rate, premium rate and other such special numbers originally used ordinary looking area codes in the 02xx to 09xx range. In the early 1980s only a few such codes were in use. Rapid expansion of these services in the late 1980s required many new codes, but there were a diminishing number of codes available for use. In order to free up space for these services, 17 geographic ABC area codes with low number use were condensed into 6 ABC ranges under a "mixed" scheme.
Numbers in Dumfries already used (0387) 2 and (0387) 5. Numbers in Langholm were 4 or 5 digits long and used the 0541 area code. Langholm numbers were changed to 5 digits and transferred to the newly created 03873 area code.
Under the new "mixed" arrangement, although 0387 and 03873 shared the same ABC digits, they were treated as completely separate area codes. All calls from one area to the other require the area code to always be dialled. Note too, that local numbers in Dumfries cannot begin with a "3".
|"Mixed" area code (1990s)||"Mixed" area code name (1990s)||Local number length||Local numbers begin (1990s)||Short local numbers begin||Old area code (1980s)||Old code re-use in 1990s||Moved to new code in 2001|
|0387||Dumfries (DU)||6||2, 4-9||-||0387 Dumfries (DU)||-||-|
|038 73||Langholm||5||2-9||-||0541 Langholm (LH)||0541 5 C&WC AreaCall||0870 15|
|0524||Lancaster (LA)||5 or 6||3-9||32-37, 39, 60-69||0524 Lancaster (LA)||-||-|
|052 42||Hornby-with-Farleton||5||2-9||-||0468 Ingleborough (IN)||0468 Vodafone mobile||07768|
|0539||Kendal (KE)||6||2-3, 7-9||-||0539 Kendal (KE)||-||-|
|053 94||Hawkshead||5||2-9||-||0966 Windermere (WM)||0966 Orange mobile||07966|
|053 95||Grange-over-Sands||5||2-9||-||0448 Grange-over-Sands (GG)||04481 Guernsey Telecom mobile||07781|
|053 96||Sedbergh||5||2-9||-||0587 Sedbergh, Lune (LU)||??|
|069 73||Wigton||5||2-9||-||0965 Wigton (WN)||??|
|069 74||Raughton Head||5||2-9||-||0699 North West (NW)||??|
|069 77||Brampton - North West (NW)||4 or 5||2-5||2-3||0697 North West (NW)||-||-|
|0768||Penrith (PN)||5 or 6||2, 5-6, 8-9||882-884, 886-888||0768 Penrith (PN)||-||-|
|076 83||Appleby-in-Westmorland||5||2-9||-||0930 Brough, Westmorland (WE)||0930 7 One2One mobile||07930 7|
|0930 0-6,8-9 Premium rate||09xx xx|
|076 84||Pooley Bridge||5||2-9||-||0853 Ullswater (UL)||0853 Premium rate||09xx x|
|076 87||Keswick||5||2-9||-||0596 Keswick (KW)||??|
|0946||Whitehaven (WH)||5 or 6||2-6, 8-9||61-68||0946 Whitehaven (WH)||-||-|
|094 67||Gosforth||5||2-9||-||0940 Gosforth, Whitehaven (WH)||??|
Of the 11 area codes freed up for alternative use in the 1980s, only 5 were actually re-used for other services. For example, the 0541 area code was re-allocated to C&WC Area Call services. Six of the area codes remained unused. In 1995, the PhONEday changes for geographic numbers solved the number shortage problem for mobile and non-geographic services by freeing up the whole 07, 08 and 09 range for their use from 2000 onwards.
On PhONEday in 1995, 0387 became 01387 and 03873 became 013873 and these codes are still in use today. The remainder of the "mixed" area code allocations and their history are detailed in the table below.
The C&WC 0541 allocation stayed in use for more than a decade before these numbers were transferred to the 0870 1 range in the Big Number Change in 2000. Nowadays all 11 of the area codes freed up in the 1980s (albeit now with a 1 prefix, e.g. 0541 is now 01541) remain unused and are available for future geographic expansion.
In Northern Ireland, many of the area codes were created as "mixed" areas. There were a number of code changes within Northern Ireland over the years with some exchanges swapping to different area codes.
In 1993, further changes were made throughout Northern Ireland in preparation for PhONEday in 1995. Many of the changes were eliminating 3-digit and 4-digit subscriber numbers in rural exchanges by adding extra digits; the table below shows the end result. The system of "mixed" areas remained in place.
|Mixed area code (1990s)||"Mixed" area code name (1990s)||Local number length||Local numbers begin (1990s)|
|0247||Bangor||6||2-6, 8, 9|
|0265||Coleraine||5 or 6||2-5, 8, 9|
|0266||Ballymena||5 or 6||2-4, 6, 8, 9|
|0365||Enniskillen||6||2-4, 8, 9|
|0396||Downpatrick||6||2-6, 8, 9|
|0504||Derry||6||2-6, 8, 9|
|0648||Magherafelt||5 or 6||2-6, 8, 9|
|0693||Newry||5 or 6||2-6, 8, 9|
|0820||?||5? or 6?||2-4, 6-9|
The prefixes listed in the table below were introduced at various times from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s. The details and timeline of these allocations is complex.
0459, 0802, 0831, 0839, 0860, 0881, 0891, 0893, 0897, 0898, 0921, 0941, 0961, 0979, 0987, 0998 and 0999 had never been used for geographic area codes, so could be used for non-geographic and mobile services as soon as the need arose. Those codes, if used, have since migrated to various 07, 08 and 09 ranges in the Big Number Change.
Other codes had multiple uses over the years. Edinburgh stopped using 0500 and moved to 031 (0131 after PhONEday). Some years later, 0500 was used for Mercury Freephone services.
Langholm was moved from 0541 to the new 038 73 "mixed" area (0138 73 after PhONEday). 0541 5 was then re-allocated as the National Rate non-geograpic code for C&WC AreaCall which then became 0870 15 in the Big Number Change.
Hornsea was moved from 0401 to join with the existing Patrington allocation at 0964 (01964 after PhONEday). This created the 0964 Hornsea and Patrington ELNS area. 0401 later went on to be used for Cellnet mobile until moving to 07701 in the Big Number Change.
Some prefixes had dual usage when no longer used for geographic area codes. In the former Basildon 0374 area code, the 0374 5 number block was used for National Rate calls while the rest of the 0374 range was used for Vodafone mobile phones. Likewise, in the former Weardale 0956 area code the 0956 7 block was used for personal numbering and the rest of 0956 was used for One-to-One mobile telephones.
The area codes 0921, 0987, 0998 and 0999 were never used., the last of which due to possible confusion with the 999 emergency number.
|Freephone||Local Rate||National Rate|
|0321 xxxxxx||Vodafone Freephone||0345 xxxxxx||BT Lo-Call||0374 5xxxxx||National rate|
|0500 xxxxxx||Mercury Freecall||0645 xxxxxx||Mercury LocalCall||0541 5xxxxx||Mercury AreaCall|
|0800 xxxxxx||BT Freefone||0990 xxxxxx||BT NationalCall|
|Premium Rate Services|
|0331||VoData premium rate||0881 1xxxxx||Mercury premium rate||0898 xxxxxx||BT premium rate|
|0336 xxxxxx||VoData premium rate||0881 2xxxxx||Mercury premium rate||0930 0xxxxx||Premium rate|
|0338||Mercury premium rate||0881 3xxxxx||Mercury premium rate||0930 1xxxxx||Premium rate|
|0632 xxxxxx||Premium rate||0881 5xxxxx||Mercury premium rate||0930 2xxxxx||Premium rate|
|0640||Mercury premium rate||0881 6xxxxx||Mercury premium rate||0930 3xxxxx||Premium rate|
|0660 xxxxxx||Mercury premium rate||0881 7xxxxx||Mercury premium rate||0930 4xxxxx||Premium rate|
|0696 xxxxxx||Premium rate||0881 9xxxxx||Mercury premium rate||0930 5xxxxx||Premium rate|
|0696 6xxxxx||Jersey Telecoms premium rate||0890 xxxxxx||Premium rate||0930 6xxxxx||Premium rate|
|0696 8xxxxx||Manx Telecoms premium rate||0891 xxxxxx||BT ValueCall||0930 8xxxxx||Premium rate|
|0696 9xxxxx||Guernsey Telecoms premium rate||0894||BT premium rate||0930 9xxxxx||Premium rate|
|0836 xxxxxx||premium rate?||0895||premium rate?||0941 xxxxxx||Premium rate (Pagers?)|
|0839 xxxxxx||Mercury premium rate?||0896||Premium rate||0991||Mercury premium rate|
|0853||Premium rate||0897||BT premium rate|
|0370 xxxxxx||Vodafone||0802 xxxxxx||BT Cellnet||0399 0xxxxx →|
|0374 0xxxxx||Vodafone||0831 xxxxxx||Vodafone||0399 xxxxxx →|
|0374 1xxxxx||Vodafone||0836 xxxxxx||Vodafone||0426 xxxxxx →|
|0374 2xxxxx||Vodafone||0839 xxxxxx||Vodafone||0459 2xxxxx →|
|0374 3xxxxx||Vodafone||0850 xxxxxx||BT Cellnet||0459 3xxxxx →|
|0374 4xxxxx||Vodafone||0860 xxxxxx||BT Cellnet||0459 4xxxxx →|
|0374 6xxxxx||Vodafone||0930 7xxxxx|
|One-to-One||0459 5xxxxx →|
|0374 7xxxxx||Vodafone||0956 1xxxxx||One-to-One||0459 6xxxxx →|
|0374 8xxxxx||Vodafone||0956 2xxxxx||One-to-One||0459 8xxxxx →|
|0374 9xxxxx||Vodafone||0956 3xxxxx||One-to-One||0459 9xxxxx →|
|0378 xxxxxx||Vodafone||0956 4xxxxx||One-to-One||01523 xxxxxx||PageOne|
|0385 xxxxxx||Vodafone||0956 5xxxxx||One-to-One||01893 xxxxxx||BT Paging|
|0390 xxxxxx||Orange||0956 6xxxxx||One-to-One||0336 7xxxxx||Vodafone|
|0401 xxxxxx||BT Cellnet||0956 8xxxxx||One-to-One||0385 4xxxxx||Vodata?|
|0402 xxxxxx||BT Cellnet||0956 9xxxxx||One-to-One||0385 6xxxxx||Vodata|
|0403 xxxxxx||BT Cellnet||0958 xxxxxx||One-to-One||04325 xxxxxx||BT Paging|
|0408 xxxxxx||BT mobile Personal Assistant||0961 0xxxxx||One-to-One||04624 xxxxxx||Isle of Man?|
|0410 xxxxxx||BT Cellnet||0961 1xxxxx||One-to-One||0660 xxxxxx||PageOne|
|0411 xxxxxx||BT Cellnet||0961 2xxxxx||One-to-One||0839 xxxxxx||PageOne|
|0421 xxxxxx||Vodafone||0961 3xxxxx||One-to-One||0881 0xxxxx||PageOne|
|0441 xxxxxx||Vodafone||0961 4xxxxx||One-to-One||0881 4xxxxx||PageOne|
|04481 xxxxxx||Guernsey Telecom||0961 5xxxxx||One-to-One||0881 8xxxxx||PageOne|
|0456 0xxxxx||Orange||0961 6xxxxx||One-to-One||0941 xxxxxx||Orange (HPL)|
|0456 1xxxxx||Orange||0961 8xxxxx||One-to-One||0941 1xxxxx||Orange (HPL)|
|04624 xxxxxx||Isle of Man||0961 9xxxxx||One-to-One|
|0467 xxxxxx||Vodafone||0966 xxxxxx||Orange|
|0468 xxxxxx||Vodafone||0973 xxxxxx||Orange|
|0498 xxxxxx||Vodafone||0976 xxxxxx||Orange|
|0585 xxxxxx||BT Cellnet||0979 7xxxxx||Jersey Telecom|
|0589 xxxxxx||BT Cellnet?|
|0956 7xxxxx||FleXtel Personal Numbering|
Rapid expansion of mobile and premium rate services quickly depleted the number of available area codes. By the early 1990s it was also becoming more difficult to remember the various codes that might cost a lot more to call than a local or national call, and many consumers were caught out with larger than expected bills. A more long-term solution would need to be found as it was clear that mobile usage in particular was going to push demand for new codes even further in the coming years.
With growth in second phone lines, direct dial-in (DDI) lines, fax machines and multiple telecoms operators during the 1980s the demand for telephone numbers exceeded the available number ranges. A number of changes were to be made to the UK numbering plan. All these stages were planned out in one exercise in the early 1980s, though the exact dates for each stage was decided later.
The first major change was in May 1990, when the London 01 area code was replaced with 071 and 081. Local numbers remained seven digits long. Exchanges in central London used the 071 code. The remaining exchanges now used the 081 code and formed a ring around the 071 area. Although this effectively doubled the available numbers from eight to sixteen million, it was not to be the last change for the capital.
|Area||New numbering||Old numbering|
|Inner London||071-xxx xxxx||01-xxx xxxx|
|Outer London||081-xxx xxxx||01-xxx xxxx|
This change freed up the entire 01 code range for the next step of the plan: converting all geographic area codes to 01. That operation would then free up the whole of the 02 to 09 range for a future re-organisation of some geographic and all mobile and non-geographic numbers. Most areas would see two code changes over the next decade, whilst London would have a total of three. It would be a decade before this inner/outer London split was eventually nullified.
Consumers were already becoming confused as to what they would be charged for any particular call, with for example (0404) xxxxx being a call to Honiton in Devon and (0403) xxxxxx being a much more expensive call to a mobile phone. The situation in the early 1990s was as follows:
|Number prefix||Example of geographic use||Non-geographic services using other prefixes in same 0x range|
|01||Not used||Freephone, local and premium rate services[notes 6]|
|02||Aberdeen (0224)||Not used|
|03||Dover (0304)||Freephone; mobile; local, national and premium rate services|
|04||Gloucester (0452)||Mobile; national rate|
|05||Kinross (0577)||Freephone; mobile; national rate|
|06||Newbury (0635)||Local and premium rate services|
|07||Romford (0708)||Personal numbers|
|08||Tamworth (0827)||Freephone; mobile; local, national and premium rate services|
|09||York (0904)||Freephone; mobile; local, national and premium rate services|
The next few changes would fix these problems.
The longest telephone numbers in use until now had been 9 digits long (not including the 0 trunk code), e.g. 051 234 5678, 0303 456789, 03873 56789, 0800 445566. The long term plan is for migration to 10 digit numbering in the UK and in 1991 this started with new 0800 numbers being allocated with 10 digits.
|0500 xxxxxx||Original 9-digit Mercury (now C&WC) freephone allocations since 1982|
|0800 xxxxxx||Original 9-digit BT freephone allocations since 1980s|
|0800 xxx xxxx||Additional 10-digit freephone numbers|
With multiple operators joining the market, administration was passed to an independent regulator. Oftel took over administration of the UK’s telephone numbers from BT in 1994.
On "PhONEday", 16 April 1995, the digit "1" was inserted into all UK geographic area codes, including those in the director, all-figure dialling, ELNS and mixed areas. Promotion of this day included special Easter eggs. Under the new changes, for example, Inner London's 071 became 0171; Outer London's 081 became 0181. A small selection of the codes that changed are shown in the table below:
|Area||New numbering||Old numbering|
|Ashford||(01233) xxxxxx||(0233) xxxxxx|
|Coventry||(01203) xxxxxx||(0203) xxxxxx|
|Birmingham||(0121) xxx xxxx||021-xxx xxxx|
|Cardiff||(01222) xxxxxx||(0222) xxxxxx|
|Buxton||(01298) xxxxx||(0298) xxxxx|
|Edinburgh||(0131) xxx xxxx||031-xxx xxxx|
|Derby||(01332) xxxxxx||(0332) xxxxxx|
|Dundee||(01382) xxxxxx||(0382) xxxxxx|
|Evesham||(01386) xxxxxx||(0386) xxxxxx|
|Glasgow||(0141) xxx xxxx||041-xxx xxxx|
|Hull||(01482) xxxxxx||(0482) xxxxxx|
|Liverpool||(0151) xxx xxxx||051-xxx xxxx|
|Jersey||(01534) xxxxxx||(0534) xxxxxx|
|Hawkshead||(0153 94) xxxxx||(053 94) xxxxx|
|Luton||(01582) xxxxxx||(0582) xxxxxx|
|Manchester||(0161) xxx xxxx||061-xxx xxxx|
|Brampton||(0169 77) xxxx||(069 77) xxxx|
|Southampton||(01703) xxxxxx||(0703) xxxxxx|
|Inner London||(0171) xxx xxxx||071-xxx xxxx|
|Reading||(01734) xxxxxx||(0734) xxxxxx|
|Outer London||(0181) xxx xxxx||081-xxx xxxx|
|Tyne and Wear/County Durham||(0191) xxx xxxx||091-xxx xxxx|
This was done with a view to reorganising the numbering plan at a later date, so that the first two digits would indicate the type of service called:
|Area code prefix||Service type|
|00||International call prefix|
|01||Geographic area codes|
|02||New geographic area codes|
|03||Originally reserved for new geographic area codes, but later used|
for non-geographic number ranges, charged at geographic rates.
|06||Formerly reserved for future personal numbering|
|07||Mobile phones, pagers and personal numbering|
|08||Freephone and shared cost / special rates|
Five new area codes were introduced for cities that were running low on phone numbers—and a digit was prepended to each existing local number.
|City||New numbering||Old numbering||Notes|
|Leeds||(0113) 2xx xxxx||(0532) xxxxxx||53 = LE|
|(0113) 3xx xxxx||New phase of numbers, issued from 1997.|
|(0113) 8xx xxxx||New phase of numbers, issued from 2006.|
|(0113) 4xx xxxx||New phase of numbers, issued from 2010.|
|Sheffield||(0114) 2xx xxxx||(0742) xxxxxx||74 = SH|
|(0114) 3xx xxxx||New phase of numbers, issued from 2004.|
|(0114) 4xx xxxx||New phase of numbers, issued from 2009.|
|Nottingham||(0115) 9xx xxxx||(0602) xxxxxx||60 = NO|
|(0115) 8xx xxxx||New phase of numbers, issued from 1997.|
|(0115) 7xx xxxx||New phase of numbers, issued from 2006.|
|(0115) 2xx xxxx||Small quantity issued late 2009 and early 2010.|
|Leicester||(0116) 2xx xxxx||(0533) xxxxxx||53 = LE|
|(0116) 3xx xxxx||New phase of numbers, issued from 2004.|
|(0116) 4xx xxxx||New phase of numbers, issued from 2009.|
|Bristol||(0117) 9xx xxxx||(0272) xxxxxx||27 = BR|
|(0117) 2xx xxxx||New phase of numbers, issued from 2007.|
|(0117) 3xx xxxx||New phase of numbers, issued from 1997.|
|(0117) 4xx xxxx||New phase of numbers, issued from 2012.|
Most of the initial local number ranges created by PhONEday were exhausted within just a few years. New local numbers then began to be allocated with a different initial digit. For example, in Sheffield (0114) when the 2xx xxxx numbers were exhausted, new numbers (other than old recycled ones) then began to be issued from the 3xx xxxx range. Similarly, newly allocated numbers in Leeds (0113), Leicester (0116) and Bristol (0117) also came from the 3xx xxxx range, but in Nottingham (0115), the new numbers instead came from the 8xx xxxx range.
Less than a decade later, further new ranges were opened in most of these areas, but this time new Reading and Leicester numbers are in the 4xx xxxx range, new Bristol numbers are in the 2xx xxxx range, new Nottingham numbers are in the 7xx xxxx range and new Leeds numbers are in the 4xx xxxx and 8xx xxxx ranges. Since then, other ranges have been opened in these areas. See table above for further details.
|City||New numbering||Old numbering||Notes|
|Leeds||0113 0ax xxxx||0532 0xxxxx||53 = LE|
|0113 1ax xxxx||0532 1xxxxx|
|Sheffield||0114 0ax xxxx||0742 0xxxxx||74 = SH|
|0114 1ax xxxx||0742 1xxxxx|
|Nottingham||0115 0ax xxxx||0602 0xxxxx||60 = NO|
|0115 1ax xxxx||0602 1xxxxx|
|Leicester||0116 0ax xxxx||0533 0xxxxx||53 = LE|
|0116 1ax xxxx||0533 1xxxxx|
|Bristol||0117 0ax xxxx||0272 0xxxxx||27 = BR|
|0117 1ax xxxx||0272 1xxxxx|
|112 or 999||Emergency services|
(police, fire, ambulance, coastguard, mountain rescue, cave rescue)
|Area||New numbering||Old numbering[notes 7]||Notes|
|Reading||(0118) 9xx xxxx||(0734) xxxxxx →|
|73 = RE; changed between 1996 and 1998, not on PhONEday|
|(0118) 3xx xxxx||New phase of numbers, issued from 1998.|
|(0118) 4xx xxxx||New phase of numbers, issued from 2009.|
Reading numbers endured two changes in a very short time. PhONEday, on 16 April 1995, changed the area code from 0734 to 01734, and then almost a year later, on 8 April 1996, it changed again to (0118). At that time, local numbers were changed from six to seven digits by inserting a 9 in front of the old local number. Parallel running of the old numbering was withdrawn on 9 January 1998.
|Area||New numbering||Old numbering[notes 7]||Notes|
|Reading||0118 0ax xxxx||01734 0xxxxx||73 = RE; changed between 1996 and 1998, not on PhONEday|
|0118 1ax xxxx||01734 1xxxxx|
Around this time, some new number ranges were already being allocated and used for mobile phone numbers. These new ranges already fitted into the new numbering scheme of 07xxx xxxxxx. The rest of the older mobile phone numbers, those already in use for many years (and at that time, both one-digit shorter, and having codes scattered throughout the 03 to 09 range) would be brought into this 07x numbering scheme a few years later, both by changing the code to the 07x range, and by adding an additional digit.
In 1995, the 070 prefix began to be allocated for personal numbers (PNS). These new numbers had 10 digits.
|070 xxxx xxxx||New 10-digit personal numbers|
New numbers at 070 107x xxxx were held aside in order for FleXtel personal numbers at 0956 7xxxxx to migrate in the forthcoming Big Number Change in 2000.
The geographic area codes 0700 to 0709 had only recently been moved to 01700 to 01709 on PhONEday. New 070 personal number allocations had to be chosen carefully such that mis-dialled calls for old pre-PhONEday geographic numbers would fail to connect rather than connect the caller to a user of a new personal number. Oftel identified old (070x) xx geographic number ranges that had not been used before and re-allocated those first.
For example, The Welwyn Garden City (0707) 4x range (now 01707 4x) had never been used, so 070 74xx quickly came into use for personal numbering in 1996. However, the (0707) 3x range (now 01707 3x) had been in use within Welwyn Garden City, and these numbers remained protected by Oftel for a number of years. The 070 73xx range of numbers finally came into use for personal numbering in 2007.
070 numbers initially allowed revenue share. These numbers are easy to mistake for mobile phone numbers and many scams developed. Oftel consulted on various proposals. Eventually revenue share was banned on these lines and they also fell under the jurisdiction of ICSTIS (nowadays PhonepayPlus), the premium rate services regulator.
Geographic numbers had been moved to begin 01 in the PhONEday changes in 1995. Pre-existing mobile phone, non-geographic, premium rate and pager services continued to use the same 9-digit 02xx xxxxxx to 09xx xxxxxx numbers as before. It would be several more years before these would add a digit to become 10-digit numbers and move to the 07, 08 and 09 ranges in the Big Number Change in 2000-2001.
From May 1997, new mobile phone services started using numbers beginning 077, 078 or 079 re-using area codes recently vacated by 9-digit geographic numbers. These new mobile numbers have 10 digits.
|077xx xxxxxx||New 10-digit mobile telephone allocations|
|078xx xxxxxx||New 10-digit mobile telephone allocations|
|079xx xxxxxx||New 10-digit mobile telephone allocations|
BT Cellnet started with 07801 xxxxxx, 07803 xxxxxx, 07808 xxxxxx and 07809 xxxxxx. Vodafone started with 07771 xxxxxx and 07775 xxxxxx in May 1997. One2One started using 07804 xxxxxx and 07806 xxxxxx numbers in May 1995. 07xxx codes for new allocations by operators have been issued by Oftel since May 1997. It would be another few years before older BT Cellnet 0802 xxxxxx numbers were converted to 07802 xxxxxx, Vodafone 0370 xxxxxx numbers were converted to 07770 xxxxxx and One2One 0961 xxxxxx numbers were converted to 07961 xxxxxx in the Big Number Change.
Pre-existing pager numbers were already scattered under various codes in the 02xx to 09xx range and had 9 digits. Several services used non-standard 01 numbers. These would all eventually be moved to 076 codes and to 10 digits in the Big Number Change in 2000.
From 1998 onwards, new pager numbers began to be issued in parts of the 076 range. These new numbers had 10 digits.
|076 xxxx xxxx||New 10-digit pager allocations|
Various parts of the 076 range were set aside for pager number migration in the forthcoming Big Number Change in 2000.
The number range 07624 xxxxxx was set aside for mobile telephones in the Isle of Man. This would also come into use as a part of the Big Number Change.
The initial plan for the new "08" number range was such that rates charged to people calling an 08 telephone number would be made more clear by linking the cost of the call to the second digit of the National Significant Number. Numbers starting 080 would be free (except from mobile phones), while 082 would be cheaper than 089.
In 1997, Oftel released 10-digit numbers beginning 0808 designated as freephone services. These calls are free only from a landline or public payphone.
|0808 0xx xxxx||10-digit freephone numbers (held in reserve for forthcoming 0321 Big Number Change migration)|
|0808 1xx xxxx to 0808 8xx xxxx||New 10-digit freephone allocations|
|0808 9xx xxxx||New 10-digit freephone allocations for internet services|
Both BT and Mercury issued only 10-digit freephone numbers to users after 1997. With the market opened up to competition, many other companies also allocated these numbers to users.
Usage of pre-existing 10- and 9-digit 0800 numbers and pre-existing 9-digit 0500 numbers continued as before.
Additionally, numbers in the range 0808 80x xxxx are reserved for not-for-profit helplines and as such are usually free to call from most mobile telephones. A number of other numbers can also called for free from mobiles, but this varies by network.
From 1996 onwards, Oftel brought various new 10-digit non-geographic 0845 and 0870 numbers into use.
|0845 xxx xxxx||New 10-digit non-geographic numbers|
|0870 xxx xxxx||New 10-digit non-geographic numbers|
Only certain sub-parts of each code were made available for immediate use. Numbers at 0845 7, 0845 9, 0870 1, 0870 4, 0870 5 and other ranges were set aside for numbers such as 0345, 0374, 0541, 0645 and 0990 that would be migrating from 9-digits to 10-digits and to these two 08xx codes in the forthcoming Big Number Change in 2000.
In these early days, the price for calling 0845 numbers from landlines was tied to BT's price for calls to local geographic numbers. Similarly, the price for calling 0870 numbers from landlines was tied to BT's price for national calls to geographic numbers.
After the migration of geographic 0xxx area codes to new 01xxx codes on PhONEday (also 0xx → 01xx and 0xxxx → 01xxxx of course), some of the old area codes had started to be re-used for other purposes. For example, 0870 (Isle of Benbecula, Outer Hebrides) had been moved to 01870 and now 0870 started to be re-used for non-geographic services. Oftel had to issue a warning to operators to remove their "this number has changed, please redial inserting a one after the initial zero" messages that had been applied on PhONEday so that callers could get through to the new non-geographic numbers.
With the diverse usage and pricing of similar looking codes there could easily be a nasty shock when the bill arrived. Office phone systems could be set to block various premium rate prefixes, but it was important to regularly review and update the list. For those that did not, problems accessing some numbers were beginning to develop. The 0930 code was mainly used for premium rate services, but 0930 7xxxxx was used by One2One for mobile telephone services. Some people found that calls to all 0930 numbers were barred and hence also those mobile phones. To overcome this, the 0961 7xxxxx range was mirrored on to 0930 7xxxxx. These were all 9-digit numbers.
From 1998 onwards, 090x numbers with 10 digits started coming into use for premium rate services. As with 084 and 087 numbers, certain small number blocks within the 090x range were set aside for migration of old premium rate codes in the forthcoming Big Number Change.
|090x xxx xxxx||New 10-digit premium rate content services ("PRS")|
The 09 number range was originally subdivided as follows:
|0900 xxx xxxx|
0901 xxx xxxx
|Time charged calls up to and including 60ppm and total call cost not greater than £5|
or fixed fee up to £1 per call.
|0902 xxx xxxx|
0903 xxx xxxx
0904 xxx xxxx
0905 xxx xxxx
|Protected for PRS expansion.|
|0906 xxx xxxx||Open ended time dependent charge or fixed fee.|
|0907 xxx xxxx||Pay for product that costs more than £1 in total.|
|0908 xxx xxxx||Protected for PRS expansion.|
|0909 xxx xxxx||Sexual entertainment services|
From 23 August 1999, Oftel added the 0905 range as by then 0906 was almost fully allocated.
|0905 xxx xxxx||Open ended time dependent charge or fixed fee.|
|0820 xxx xxxx||Internet for schools (10-digit numbers)|
As the number of lines in use continued to grow, some areas became close to full capacity. In the late-1990s, Ofcom signalled a number of areas of concern.
|By 2005||By 2005||By 2012|
Of these, only Coventry was immediately addressed - by migration to the 024 code and eight digit subscriber numbers in the Big Number Change in 2000.
The 092x to 099x range was designated "broadband services".[when?]
|092x xxx xxxx to 099x xxx xxxx||Broadband services (10-digit numbers)|
The allocation was never used and eventually removed from the plan in 2005.
Calls between nearby exchanges could previously be dialled using a "short code", often beginning 7, 8 or 9. With rising demand for more subscriber numbers, these codes were scrapped in the late 1990s. After a short delay, 6-digit subscriber numbers beginning 7 or 8 began to be issued in these 01xxx areas, and with 5-digits in 01xxxx areas. In the mid- and late -2000s, some of these areas also started issuing subscriber numbers beginning 9.
On 22 April 2000 the second phase of the plan came into operation, dubbed the "Big Number Change". With 02x area codes freed up by the previous reorganisation, they could be re-used. These areas had already had a code change (to insert a "1") five years earlier as a part of PhONEday. The Big Number Change altered the area codes again, as well as making the local number two digits longer (London: one digit longer).
|Area||New numbering||Old numbering[notes 7]||Notes|
|London||(020) 7xxx xxxx||0171-xxx xxxx||Used for existing inner London numbers and new numbers London-wide.|
|(020) 8xxx xxxx||0181-xxx xxxx||Used for existing outer London numbers and new numbers London-wide.|
|(020) 3xxx xxxx||New phase of numbers, released London-wide from June 2005.|
|Southampton||(023) 80xx xxxx||(01703) xxxxxx||70 = SO|
|(023) 81xx xxxx||New phase of numbers, released from 2005.|
|(023) 82xx xxxx||New phase of numbers, released from 2012.|
|Portsmouth||(023) 92xx xxxx||(01705) xxxxxx||70 = PO|
|(023) 93xx xxxx||New phase of numbers, released from 2005.|
|Coventry||(024) 76xx xxxx||(01203) xxxxxx||20 = CO|
|(024) 77xx xxxx||New phase of numbers, released from 2005.|
|(024) 75xx xxxx||New phase of numbers, released from 2012.|
|Cardiff||(029) 20xx xxxx||(01222) xxxxxx||22 = CA|
|(029) 21xx xxxx||New phase of numbers released from June 2005.|
|(029) 22xx xxxx||New phase of numbers released from August 2010.|
Example given is Belfast—see below
|(028) 90xx xxxx||(01232) xxxxxx||23 = BE|
|(028) 95xx xxxx||New phase of numbers released from 2005.|
Note that although Southampton and Portsmouth are one code from a code structure and local dialling point of view, calls between them are not treated as local calls for pricing purposes.
It is planned that the new codes will eventually cover a larger area than at present. For example, although (029) currently covers just the Cardiff area, it may in the future cover all of Wales.
The code for Northern Ireland is (028). The transition codes for Northern Ireland are shown below. These can be accessed from the Republic of Ireland using either the domestic code 048, or the international prefix 00 44 28.
The prefixes for existing numbers in Northern Ireland are split up into seven groups, roughly based upon the county in which the main exchange is based. The initial digit of each phone number is based on the designated county—for example, the first county alphabetically is County Antrim so numbers in this county start with 2. The next county is County Armagh so numbers here start with 3. One exception to this is the Greater Belfast area, initial digit 9, which is extended to include each adjacent former STD code area, including the towns of Bangor, (County Down) (91), Lisburn (92), Carrickfergus (93), Antrim (94) and Saintfield (97). The encompassed former STD codes at some points extend to over 20 miles from Belfast itself. There is a much more complete list in the Big Number Change article.
|Town/city||Region||New numbering||Old numbering[notes 7]|
|Larne||County Antrim||(028) 28xx xxxx||(01574) xxxxxx|
|Armagh||County Armagh||(028) 37xx xxxx||(01861) xxxxxx|
|Newcastle||County Down||(028) 437x xxxx||(013967) xxxxx|
|Enniskillen||County Fermanagh||(028) 66xx xxxx||(01365) xxxxxx|
|Limavady||County Londonderry||(028) 777x xxxx||(015047) xxxxx|
|Omagh||County Tyrone||(028) 82xx xxxx||(01662) xxxxxx|
|Belfast||Greater Belfast||(028) 90xx xxxx||(01232) xxxxxx|
|Lisburn||Greater Belfast||(028) 92xx xxxx||(01846) xxxxxx|
|Area||New numbering||Old numbering[notes 7]||Notes|
|London||020 01xx xxxx||0171-0xx xxxx||A non-trivial relationship maps the old blocks|
of numbers to the new number blocks.
|020 11xx xxxx||0171-1xx xxxx|
|020 00xx xxxx||0181-0xx xxxx|
|020 10xx xxxx||0181-1xx xxxx|
|Southampton||023 110x xxxx||01703 0xxxxx||70 = SO|
|023 111x xxxx||01703 1xxxxx|
|Portsmouth||023 100x xxxx||01705 0xxxxx||70 = PO|
|023 101x xxxx||01705 1xxxxx|
|Coventry||024 100x xxxx||01203 0xxxxx||20 = CO|
|024 101x xxxx||01203 1xxxxx|
|Cardiff||029 100x xxxx||01222 0xxxxx||22 = CA|
|029 101x xxxx||01222 1xxxxx|
In addition, mobile and pager numbers were all moved into the 07xxx range. Pagers moved into 076xx, while personal numbers moved to 070. Mobile phone numbers moved into the 077xx, 078xx and 079xx ranges (and more recently, 075xx and 074xx have also been brought into use).
The exception to this was Manx Telecom mobile phone numbers, where the code became 07624 in order to match the 01624 used for landlines.
In addition, lower and higher rate non-geographic numbers (previously called lo-call or local-rate and national-rate numbers, though these terms are no longer recommended to be used as they can be misleading) migrated to 08xx and premium rate numbers migrated to 09xx.
A summary of the migration path for the existing mobile and pager codes, as they were at the time, is shown below:
|Mobile phone numbers||Pager numbers|
|Code before migration||Code after migration||Code before migration||Code after migration|
The number change meant that London returned to a single area code again (as in the old 01 days), with no "inner/outer" split. Existing London numbers acquired the prefixes 7 or 8, but from that point on (020) 7xxx xxxx and (020) 8xxx xxxx numbers were assigned or reused anywhere in the London area covered by the single (city-wide) 020 code.
From June 2005 the regulator, Ofcom, ceased to allocate new number blocks to suppliers in the 7xxx xxxx and 8xxx xxxx ranges. From this date onwards all number allocations were in the 3xxx xxxx range and can be used anywhere in the London 020 area. Although new blocks of 7xxx xxxx and 8xxx xxxx range numbers are no longer being allocated to suppliers, those that have not yet exhausted their existing blocks are able to continue to issue and re-issue them to their customers.
Numbers in the 020 0xxx xxxx and 020 1xxx xxxx number ranges have also been made available. However, these numbers cannot be dialled without the 020 code and are called "national dialling only" numbers. A small number of these blocks are used by numbers migrated from old 0171-0xx xxxx, 0171-1xx xxxx, 0181-0xx xxxx, and 0181-1xx xxxx "national dialling only" numbers. They are mainly used as termination points for non-geographic numbers, and for various alarm and other automated systems where the actual telephone number itself is never called.
It is a common misconception that London still has more than one area code (i.e. "0207" and "0208"). This is incorrect in the sense that omitting the "0207" or "0208" (area) code will give a local number that cannot be connected as it is missing the first digit. Therefore, writing a London number as 020x xxx xxxx is incorrect and can lead to confusion when attempting to dial it.
The misconception of area code and number separation is also seen in other areas of the country where the area code length was reduced in the Big Number Change such as Coventry being written as 02476 xxxxxx, whereas the correct number sequence is (024) 76xx xxxx (Coventry now has some (024) 77xx xxxx and (024) 75xx xxxx numbers) and Cardiff being written as 02920 xxxxxx whereas the correct number sequence is (029) 20xx xxxx (Cardiff now has some (029) 21xx xxxx and (029) 22xx xxxx numbers).
Likewise in Portsmouth, numbers are being incorrectly written as 02392 xxxxxx, whereas the correct number sequence is (023) 92xx xxxx (Portsmouth now has some (023) 93xx xxxx numbers).
This also occurs in some areas of Northern Ireland, that previously had 5-digit and 6-digit local numbers like in Banbridge (previously (018206) xxxxx), where numbers are still erroneously written as 028406 xxxxx instead of (028) 406x xxxx. Locals still misquote the area code as 028406, even now, some twelve years after the change. The same occurs in formerly six-digit code areas, such as Lisburn (previous (01846) xxxxxx) continues to frequently appear as 02892 xxxxxx instead of the correct form (028) 92xx xxxx.
This is also seen in the earlier PhONEday areas, such as in Sheffield, for (0114) 2xx xxxx numbers, where these are often seen written as 01142 xxxxxx or are missing the leading digit 2 when abbreviated (751234 instead of 275 1234 for example). This is a particular problem now that (0114) 3xx xxxx local numbers are being issued.
It also affects Reading numbers where these are still being written as 01189 xxxxxx, whereas the correct number sequence is (0118) 9xx xxxx. Now that Reading has some (0118) 3xx xxxx and (0118) 4xx xxxx numbers mis-dialling also occurs when people prefix 3xx xxxx and 4xx xxxx numbers with 01189 instead of just 0118.
In all of these areas, the result of the confusion is that callers are adding an incorrect area code to numbers allocated within the new local number ranges, and that then results in a mis-dialled call.
These are detailed as extra entries within the PhONEday section above.
In 2000, Oftel started allocating 055 numbers for corporate numbering. These numbers have 10 digits. Uptake of these numbers has been low.
|055 xxxx xxxx||Corporate Numbering|
055 114x xxxx numbers have been used for the BT Broadband Voice service since December 2003, one of their bigger customers being Abbey (now Santander) bank.
In 2000, Oftel started allocating non-geographic 0844 and 0871 revenue-share numbers. These numbers have 10 digits. Initially, uptake of these numbers was low, but increased dramatically from 2005 onwards.
|0844 00x xxxx||Non-geographic special services basic rate (internet)|
|0844 01x xxxx to 0844 09x xxxx||currently unused|
|0844 1xx xxxx||currently unused|
|0844 2xx xxxx to 0844 9xx xxxx||Non-geographic special services basic rate (non-internet)|
|0871 0xx xxxx||Non-geographic special services higher rate (internet)|
|0871 1xx xxxx||currently unused|
|0871 2xx xxxx to 0871 9xx xxxx||Non-geographic special services higher rate (non-internet)|
These numbers look similar to 0845 and 0870 numbers but are often charged at a different rate. From their inception until around 2005, call costs from landlines looked like this:
The call price for 0844 and 0871 numbers from a BT landline is the revenue-share premium and no additional markup, by regulation. From landlines other than BT, the call price for 0844 and 0871 numbers is usually higher than from BT landlines as those other operators add their own unregulated markup on top of the revenue share.
From mobiles, 080 numbers cost from 10 to 30 pence per minute and calls to 084 and 087 numbers cost up to 50 pence per minute at that time. The revenue share is only a small proportion of the cost billed to callers when using a mobile.
After 2005, most landline providers no longer differentiated between local and national calls, charging a single geographic rate for calling 01 and 02 numbers nationwide. Many landline providers also started offering inclusive call bundles for 01 and 02 numbers and by 2011 the vast majority of landline phone users were on this type of deal. Bundled minutes from mobiles include 01, 02 and 07 numbers. Bundles effectively make all calls to 01 and 02 numbers "free" for very many people. Since 2005, it has been illegal to describe 084 numbers as "local rate" or "lo-call" or 087 numbers as "national rate".
A small number of landline providers and a smaller number of mobile providers have allowed 0870 (and a few landline providers have also allowed 0845) numbers to be used in inclusive minutes bundles. However, 0844 and 0871 numbers are never inclusive. From landlines, 084 and 087 numbers cost anything up to 20 pence per minute. From mobile phones, 084 and 087 numbers cost anything up to 45 pence per minute. The price includes a revenue-share "premium" or "service charge" of up to 5 pence per minute for 0844 numbers and up to 10 pence per minute for 0871 numbers. The premium is passed on to the terminating telecoms company.
In 2001, additional premium rate numbers in the 091x range started to be allocated. Initially just 0911, but latterly also 0912 and 0913.
|091x xxx xxxx||Premium rate content services|
09 numbers were regulated first by ICSTIS and then after 2007 by PhonepayPlus.
Until 2002, the domestic directory enquiries service within the UK had been reached by dialling 192 from a landline. The service had been run solely by BT. In December 2002, the market was opened up by Oftel for new providers to run additional directory enquiries services in competition. BT's 192 service moved to 118 500, and dialling 192 ceased working in August 2003. New providers used 118 118, 118 247, 118 855 and many others. Nowadays there are more than a hundred such providers and more than 130 different tariffs.
|118 xxx||Directory Enquiries (DQ)|
As with 09xx premium rate numbers, the usage of 118 xxx directory enquiry numbers was regulated by ICSTIS (later PhonepayPlus).
In 2003, the 0908 number range came into use, as 0909 was now almost fully allocated.
|0908 xxx xxxx|
0909 xxx xxxx
|Sexual entertainment services|
In 2003, Oftel published a proposal to create a National Telephone Numbering Plan. This draft plan proposed changing the names of many areas from whatever name BT had previously used. Following responses from BT, C&W and others, the final plan was published with a number of amendments incorporated, followed by a minor revision a few weeks later. A few months later, the data and the responsibility for maintaining it was passed to Ofcom.
Ofcom's data is contained in two files: the NTNP PDF file (updated several times per year) and the SABC CSV file for electronic download (published weekly). Although the data in these files should be identical, there have been and still are very many differences between them.
In one background document from 2004, Ofcom states that In order to conform to the National Telephone Numbering Plan (NTNP), the names of the following Geographic Area Codes have changed - 1248, 1268, 1275, 1276, 1291, 1293, 1306, 1322, 1327, 1334, 1344, 1354, 1356, 1375, 1384, 1394, 1425, 1438, 1442, 1451, 1454, 1461, 1470, 1471, 1477, 1478, 1485, 1488, 1489, 1491, 1543, 1561, 1562, 1582, 1588, 1598, 1661, 1668, 1675, 1680, 1681, 1684, 1688, 1689, 1695, 1707, 1720, 1727, 1737, 1744, 1753, 1770, 1784, 1806, 1821, 1856, 1870, 1877, 1883, 1885, 1889, 1895, 1908, 1920, 1922, 1926, 1928, 1932, 1952, 1953, 1963, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1992.
However, several of the above area codes did not see any name change. It had been proposed to change some names but in the end either the original BT name continued to be used or a completely new name suggested by either BT or C&W, or by both, was adopted. The Ofcom proposal also contained a large number of spelling mistakes in the proposed area code names. Some of those errors were rectified within weeks or months, while others have still not been fixed eight years later. Additionally, several other areas changed their name after suggestions by BT and/or C&W, although Ofcom originally had no plans to change them. There are also several areas which changed name but are not listed above. Additionally some names were changed in one Ofcom document but were not updated in the other Ofcom document until several years later. Some have still not been updated or corrected.
Nine more place names were fixed in a reissued NTNP PDF document in mid-December 2011.
In 2003, the Office of Telecommunications (Oftel) was disbanded and replaced with the Office of Communications (Ofcom).
In 2004, Ofcom allocated the remaining number ranges within the 14 existing ELNS areas.
|"ELNS" area code||"ELNS" area code name||Local number length||Local numbers begin (2004 onwards)||Local numbers begin (until 2004)|
|01229||Barrow-in-Furness (BA)||6||2, 4, 5, 6, 8||4, 5, 6, 8|
|Millom||6||3, 7, 9||7|
|01339||Aboyne||6||2, 3, 5, 8||8|
|Ballater||6||4, 6, 7, 9||7|
|01388||Bishop Auckland||6||3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9||3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9|
|01423||Boroughbridge||6||3, 4, 9||3, 9|
|Harrogate (HA)||6||2, 5, 6, 7, 8||2, 5, 7, 8|
|01430||Market Weighton||6||6, 7, 8, 9||8|
|North Cave||6||2, 3, 4, 5||4|
|01434||Bellingham||6||2, 4, 9||2|
|Hexham (HE)||6||6, 7, 8||6, 7, 8|
|01437||Clynderwen [Clunderwen]||6||2, 3, 4, 5||5|
|Haverfordwest (HF)||6||6, 7, 8, 9||7, 8, 9|
|01507||Alford (Lincs)||6||4, 8, 9||4, 8|
|Louth (LO)||6||3, 6, 7||3, 6|
|Spilsby (Horncastle)||6||2, 5||5|
|01686||Llanidloes||6||2, 3, 4, 7||4|
|Newtown (NT)||6||5, 6, 8, 9||6, 8|
|01847||Thurso (TH)||6||2, 3, 4, 5, 8||5, 8|
|Tongue||6||6, 7, 9||6|
|01851||Great Bernera||6||4, 6, 9||6|
|Stornoway||6||2, 3, 5, 7, 8||7, 8|
|01890||Ayton||6||5, 6, 7, 9||7|
|Coldstream||6||2, 3, 4, 8||2, 3, 8|
|01964||Hornsea||6||2, 5, 8, 9||5|
|Patrington||6||3, 4, 6, 7||6|
|01975||Alford (Aberdeen)||6||2, 4, 5, 9||5|
|Strathdon||6||3, 6, 7, 8||6|
In 2004, Ofcom allocated the remaining number ranges within the existing 18 "mixed" areas.
|"Mixed" area code||"Mixed" area code name||Local number length||Local numbers begin (2004 onwards)||Local numbers begin (until 2004)||Short local numbers begin|
|01387||Dumfries (DU)||6||2, 4-9||2, 7-9||-|
|01524||Lancaster (LA)||5 or 6||3-9||3-8||32-37, 39, 60-69|
|01539||Kendal (KE)||6||2-3, 7-9||7-8||-|
|01697||Brampton - North West (NW)||6||2, 5-6, 8-9||none[notes 8]||-|
|0169 74||Raughton Head||5||2-9||2-9||-|
|0169 77||Brampton||4 or 5||2-9||2-5||2-3|
|01768||Penrith (PN)||5 or 6||2, 5-6, 8-9||2, 6, 8||882-884, 886-888|
|0176 84||Pooley Bridge||5||2-9||2-9||-|
|01946||Whitehaven (WH)||5 or 6||2-6, 8-9||5, 6, 8||61-68|
In 2004, Ofcom started allocating 056 numbers for VoIP services. Soon after, VoIP services also appeared on geographic 01 and 02 numbers. Uptake of 056 numbers remains low. These numbers have 10 digits.
|056 xxxx xxxx||LIECS (Location Independent Electronic Communications Services), e.g. VoIP services|
These are detailed as extra entries within the Big Number Change section above.
Some years earlier, 092x to 099x had been designated "broadband services". With changes in technology, this allocation had never been used. It was removed from the plan in 2005.
With calls for premium rate adult services to be more clearly defined and separated from other premium rate services, the 0908 and 0909 codes were to be no longer issued for new services. Instead, the new 098x range would be used, initially 0982 but latterly also 0983, 0984 and 0989.
|0908 xxx xxxx|
0909 xxx xxxx
|Sexual entertainment services (not available for new allocations)|
|098x xxx xxxx||Sexual entertainment services|
Some companies had attempted to avoid restrictions placed on Premium Rate Services by instead running adult services on various 070, 0871 and other number ranges. Regulations were eventually drafted to force these services to use only the designated 098x (and pre-existing 0908 and 0909) numbers.
Due to concerns raised by patients having to pay unfair costs when calling NHS services by telephone, the usage of 0870 non-geographic numbers was banned by the Department of Health in 2005. At that time, 0870 numbers often cost more to call than geographic 01 and 02 numbers and were not usually included in bundled minutes. Around 400 GP surgeries used 0870 numbers and were also coming under greater scrutiny with a few reverting to geographic numbers.
Many of these services quicky moved to 0845 or 0844 revenue share numbers as they were not specifically banned, even though they also cost more to call than 01 and 02 numbers and in many cases cost more to call than 0870 numbers. The tendancy to unlawfully refer to 084x numbers as 'local rate' or 'lo-call' numbers hid the true cost of calling them, compared to the price for calling geographic numbers. One supplier of surgery telephone systems opted to use 0844 revenue share numbers paying the surgery 2p/min from the 5p/min "premium" paid by callers. Contravening ASA advice, surgeries were told that 0844 numbers were "lo-call" numbers and subsequent tariff comparisons ignored both packages with inclusive minutes and users with mobile phones.
In December 2006, Lord Norman Warner sent a letter to all Primary Care Trust Chief Executives drawing attention to the Central Office of Information guidance on telephone numbering, which suggested that healthcare providers consider adopting an 03 telephone number so that people "do not have to pay over the odds to contact their local services". Very few took notice. In July and November 2007, two Early Day Motions were signed by numerous MPs calling for GPs to no longer use 0844 and other such expensive telephone numbers.
In recent years, there has been much discussion in the media about the use of 0844 numbers in the healthcare sector, mainly due to the costs incurred by people who have to dial these numbers as the primary form of contact with their local healthcare services, especially when calling from mobiles.
The issue was debated in Parliament in early 2008. The BMA recommended that GPs publish call costs for 0844 numbers in surgeries. Former Health Secretary Alan Johnson has publicly advocated the use of 03 numbers. By early 2008 there were already more than 800 GPs in England using 0844 telephone numbers.
In 2008, Leicester City NHS Trust looked into their usage of telephone numbers and revealed a complex set of issues to be solved, some of which were fixed later in the year. Enfield Primary Care Trust wrote to all 62 surgeries in the borough warning them that it does not approve of them using premium rate 0844 numbers. It was revealed that Mid-Yorkshire hospital trust had made more than £80,000 from use of a 0844 telephone number in two years. By late 2008, the number of GPs surgeries using 084 numbers had risen to 1500.
The Department of Health published a consultation at the end of 2008 calling for views on the usage of 084 numbers in the NHS which received more than 3000 responses. In response, the British Medical Association (BMA) stated "GP practices using 084 telephone numbers must be allowed to serve out the terms of their contracts with telephone suppliers if the government decides to ban them from the NHS," as many had already mistakenly signed up to long contracts for 0844 numbers. Ofcom recommended the 03 option. In 2009, Heart of Birmingham Primary Care Trust moved 22 GPs to new 0345 numbers.
Although 0870 numbers were banned in 2005, even as late as 2010 there were NHS bodies only now just getting around to complying with that ban.
In 2006, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) started taking action against companies that falsely represent that "084 numbers are 'local rate' [sic] or 'lo-call' [sic] calls" or "087 numbers are 'national rate' [sic] calls". By this time, most operators no longer offered a "local call" rate, instead charging all calls to 01 and 02 numbers at the same rate, whatever the distance.
After 2005, several operators also offered 01, 02 and the newly created 03 numbers as "free minutes" within an "evening and weekend" calls bundle or within an "anytime" calls bundle. As 084 and 087 numbers were not usually included in any such bundle, costing up to 20p/min from landlines and up to 41p/min from mobiles, describing these numbers as anything other than "chargeable with an additional service charge" (or "premium" by another name) is a misleading price indication. In comparison, for many callers, calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers had effectively become "free".
As a result of ever increasing mobile phone ownership, and especially the introduction of mobile broadband in the UK, the 075xx number range was opened in October 2006. This joined the existing 07624, 077xx, 078xx and 079xx ranges.
|075xx xxxxxx||Mobile telephones|
In 2006, the new 101 number for non-emergency calls to the police began trials in several areas with a call cost of 10 pence per call. The number was adopted nationally in 2011/2012. Calls now cost 15 pence per call from landlines and mobiles.
In February 2007, Ofcom announced the 03 range of numbers was being brought into use and the first numbers were issued in May. Although allocated as non-geographic, these were to be charged at the same rate as geographic 01 and 02 numbers from both landline and mobile and were also to be included within "free minutes" bundles for subscribers with a call package. Further details are in the 03 numbers section above.
|030x xxx xxxx||For qualifying public bodies and non-profit organisations as defined by Ofcom|
|033x xxx xxxx||For any end user|
|034x xxx xxxx||Migration range for operators who have 084x numbers|
|037x xxx xxxx||Migration range for operators who have 087x numbers|
In May 2007, Ofcom allocated the first 0872 numbers. These follow on from the earlier 0871 code which was now fully allocated.
In November 2007, the first 0843 numbers were allocated. These follow on from the earlier, and now fully allocated, 0844 code.
|0843 xxx xxxx||Non-geographic special services basic rate|
|0872 xxx xxxx||Non-geographic special services higher rate|
These are used for revenue share services and are generally not included in bundled minutes from either mobiles or landlines. From landlines these numbers cost anything up to 20 pence per minute and from mobile phones anything up to 45 pence per minute. The price includes a revenue-share "premium" or "service charge" of up to 5 pence per minute for 0843 numbers and up to 10 pence per minute for 0872 numbers. The premium is passed on to the terminating telecoms company.
Ofcom also indicated that 0842 and 0873 will follow on from these allocations at a later date.
Due to continued misuse of the 0871 and 0872 number ranges, ICSTIS consulted on additional regulation in 2006 and announced in 2007 that both number ranges were to be regulated from 2008. After some delay they were eventually taken into the jurisdiction of PhonepayPlus in 2009. PhonepayPlus replaced ICSTIS in 2007.
Ofcom had previously considered that personal numbers should migrate to 06, to replace the 070 prefix that is sometimes confused with mobile phone numbers. There is no cap on retail caller charges. Ofcom wanted 070 and 06 numbers to have a price cap, and 07 numbers to be used exclusively for mobile phones.
Companies such as Hospedia (formerly Patientline) use 070 personal numbers. After an in-depth study to better understand the market, Ofcom has changed its mind and is now proposing to drop the 060 migration concept and decided that the forced migration to 060 is no longer seen to be objectively justifiable. Premium rate and other such services were also banned from using 070 numbers.
|Number||Usage||Year introduced||Service provider||Communications provider|
|116 000||Hotline for missing children||2009||Missing People||BT|
|116 006||Helpline for victims of crime||2010|
|116 111||Child helplines||2009||NSPCC||BT|
|116 117||Non-emergency medical on-call service||2010|
|116 123||Emotional Support Helplines||2009||Samaritans||BT|
As a result of ever increasing mobile phone and mobile broadband ownership, the 074xx number range was opened in July 2009. This joined the existing 075xx, 07624, 077xx, 078xx and 079xx ranges.
|074xx xxxxxx||Mobile telephones|
After a sustained period of abuse, revenue share was removed from 0870 and 070 numbers. Prices for calling 0870 numbers from landlines fell and some landline providers started to allow calls to 0870 numbers to appear within call-plan inclusive minutes. Revenue-share continued on 0843, 0844, 0845, 0871 and 0872 numbers.
It was anticipated that 0845 numbers would also lose their revenue share, leading BT to prematurely include these numbers within call plans. Ofcom changed their mind and the status of 0845 numbers wasn't changed. Instead, in 2010 to 2012, Ofcom eventually consulted on re-organisation of the whole of the 084 and 087 number ranges.
After ICSTIS consultation in 2006 and 2007 numbers beginning 0871 (and 0872) began to be regulated by PhonepayPlus, the premium rate services regulator from August 1, 2009. This brings regulation in line with existing 09xx premium rate services, 070 personal numbers and 118 xxx directory enquiries. ICSTIS became PhonepayPlus on 15 October 2007. 0871 and 0872 numbers retained their revenue-share status.
It had been widely reported in 2009 that 084 numbers were to be banned from the NHS. In December 2009, the Department of Health published directions to NHS bodies concerning the cost of telephone calls made by patients to the NHS: "An NHS body must not enter into, renew or extend a contract or other arrangement for telephone services unless it is satisfied that, having regard to the arrangement as a whole, persons will not pay more to make relevant calls to the NHS body then they would to make equivalent calls to a geographic number." This reiterated the "free at the point of delivery" principle of the NHS and the direction applied to all NHS bodies.
The accompanying letter introduced ambiguity: "These Directions do not prohibit an organisation from using specific number ranges for the purpose of contacting NHS services. Organisations remain free to use non-geographical number ranges such as 084, providing that patients are not charged more than the equivalent cost of calling a geographical number to do so." Simple inspection of the call price lists for all major landline and mobile telephone service providers readily confirmed that 0844 numbers always cost more than 01 and 02 numbers. From this, it is clear that only 01, 02 and 03 numbers can be used by NHS bodies.
0844 numbers continued to be adopted by GPs, with an estimated 200 more signing up in the final six months of 2009.
The GP committe of the BMA (British Medical Association) advised that NEG (Network Europe Group, a supplier of telephone switchboard equipment to GPs and a reseller of the telephone lines and numbers that GPs use) had assured both the BMA and the Department of Health that 0844 numbers were "local rate" calls charged at rates less than geographic calls, and that GPs could continue using them as long as each GP obtained that assurance from NEG. However, NEG does not have any patients as customers nor does NEG set the prices for calls that patients make, nor does it send out bills to patients, so any such assurance is worthless. Patients are billed by BT, Sky, Virgin, Vodafone, O2, Orange, T-Mobile, and others, and all of those charge more for calling 0844 numbers than for calling 01, 02 and 03 numbers.
With widespread abuse of non-geographic numbers continuing unabated, Ofcom started a long series of consulatations in April 2010. Also in April 2010, the Department of Health introduced new GMS (General Medical Services) contracts so that GPs would now also be covered by the earlier direction. From this point on, the more than 6500 GP surgeries in England and Wales were banned from using phone numbers that "cost more than calling a geographic number", and given one year to comply. The GMS contract variation was needed as GPs are not NHS bodies, rather independent contractors.
Questions were asked in the Scottish Parliament in June 2010.
In a move out of step with other changes, plans for the existing NHS Direct 0845 46 47 number to migrate to a cheaper-to-call 03 number were scrapped as plans for a new 111 service were already well advanced.
A year after the GMS contract variation came into effect, many GPs were continuing to use 0844 numbers in defiance of the ban. In March and May 2011, more than 1300 GP surgeries were still using the banned 0844 (and 0845/0870) numbers. It was becoming clear that local decision makers (i.e. PCTs and GPs) had failed to understand the 0844 revenue share mechanism as well as the price regulations that apply uniquely to BT and make their call rates atypical when compared to other providers. At least one PCT claimed that they did not know what patients were paying for calls and further claimed that they had no way of finding out, seemingly unaware that every telecoms supplier publishes a detailed price list on their respective websites.
NEG continued to issue a revised version of their "letter of compliance", assuring GPs that calling 0844 numbers does not cost more than calling 01 and 02 numbers and in May 2011 issued a much longer document in response to earlier Daily Mail articles that had exposed the differences between the position taken by NEG and the actual provisions laid out in the April 2010 GMS contract variation. In July 2011, the BMA advocated that GPs should only consider the call costs for patients calling from BT (British Telecommunications PLC) landlines using tariffs without "inclusive" call allowances. The BMA advised that GPs should not consider the price of calls for patients calling from landlines other than BT, nor those with inclusive allowances or using mobile phones. This advice directly contradicted the statement recently made in Parliament: "It is absolutely clear that there is no distinction between landlines, mobiles or payphones. The directions are very clear that patients should not expect to be charged any more."
PCTs (Primary Care Trusts), en masse, had seemingly misunderstood the regulations or had been misled by the incorrect advice spread by NEG and the BMA as by November 2011 more than 1400 GPs were using the "banned" numbers.
Only a small number of GPs had complied with the ban. Various GPs using 0844 numbers attempted to justify their position based on demonstratably false information. In some areas, patients took it upon themselves to find and publish geographic numbers for GPs continuing to flout the 0844 ban.
In January 2012, a parliamentary debate took place where it was confirmed that users "should not pay more than a geographic rate call" and it was clarified that this applies to "both landlines and mobiles". Additionally, "bundled" or "free minutes" should also count. The reference provides some additional commentary on the major points.
A month later, the Department of Health issued further guidance on the use of 084 numbers in the NHS confirming that GPs should consider "all means of telephoning the practice – including from payphones, mobile phones and landlines" which the BMA disputed. 0844 numbers were mentioned again in a parliamentary debate in March 2012 when the Secretary of State Andrew Lansley confirmed: "We have made it very clear that GPs should not be using 0844 numbers for that purpose and charging patients for them." A small number of surgeries have since complied with the regulation by moving to 01 or 02 numbers but most have not done so. In 2012, NEG issued several revised documents claiming compliance using non-typical tariffs as a basis for comparison and ignoring bundled minutes and again in 2013.
The Northern Ireland Assembly debated the issue in May 2012 where it was disclosed that 23 of Northern Ireland's 355 GP surgeries use an 0844 number. A briefing note was produced within, and for the usage of, UK government. This covered some of the history relating to the issue. Campaigners had already produced a simplified timeline. In their response to an ongoing Ofcom consulation on simplifying non-geographic numbers, NEG said "Under the proposed new structure, Ofcom expects call cost descriptions to follow the format: 'This call will cost you X pence per minute plus your phone company's access charge.' We do not believe that it is appropriate for a patient to receive the Service Charge information advised by OFCOM when they contact their surgery as this will only seek to alarm them, and perpetuate the myth that all calls (to 084 numbers) are more costly."
In order to comply, GPs should be using numbers that begin 01, 02 or 03 and should not be using numbers that begin 070, 084, 087 or 09. The 034 and 037 ranges are reserved specifically for 084 and 087 migration. GPs using 084 and 087 numbers can migrate to the equivalent 034 or 037 version of their number without ending their phone service contracts. Alternatively they can move to brand new 030 or 033 numbers or to a geographic 01 or 02 number. Only a few GPs and NHS services have chosen 03 numbers even though this should be the most obvious solution since 03 numbers allow the same call queueing and call management facilities as 084 and 087 numbers while costing the same as 01 and 02 numbers for all callers.
In spite of the ban on 0844 numbers in the NHS since April 2010, more GPs continue to sign up to use them however PhonepayPlus has also taken an interest in extending regulations that already cover 09 and 087 numbers — as used for premium rate chat lines, competitions and phone-in voting systems — to also cover 084 numbers.
Multiple PCTs have failed to enforce the terms of the April 2010 variations to the GMS contract and many GPs continue to use the banned numbers. At least one surgery with an 0844 contract and with considerable time remaining time before it ends has adopted Skype as an alternative method of contacting the surgery. Some surgeries have two telephone numbers: one a premium rate 0844 number with a higher level of service and the other a standard geographic 01 or 02 number with a lower level of service, thereby creating a two-teir system for accessing the NHS services.
Almost three years after the ban, some GPs within the constituencies of government ministers continue to use 0844 numbers. In the South-East of England, usage of 0844 numbers continues unabated. In any case, in 2013 the Consumer Rights Directive will soon make it illegal to use 084 and 087 numbers, indeed any number that "costs more than geographic rate", for customer services and complaints. Where contracts are ending, GPs often choose to return to using 01 and 02 numbers even though 03 numbers cost the same for all callers.
In 2010, 111 was introduced on a trial basis for non-urgent calls to the NHS. The scheme is planned to roll out nationally in 2013 and at that time may replace the currect NHS Direct 0845 46 47 line (in England and Wales) and the NHS 24 08454 24 24 24 line (in Scotland).
|111||NHS 111 (non-emergency calls)|
Extra capacity assigned in late 2010, following consultation.
|Official designation||Number ranges 2011 onwards||Number ranges 1980s - 2010|
|Tyneside||2, 4, 6, 8||2, 4, 6|
In November 2010, Ofcom proposed to abandon renumbering in areas running short of capacity and instead provide extra capacity by starting to use local numbers beginning '0' and '1', and removing the option of dialling locally using just the subscriber number. Once the supply of new numbers released by this measure is exhausted Ofcom propose introducing additional, overlay area codes to run in tandem with current codes. It is anticipated that the overlay codes would not be required before 2022.
By way of an Errata to the National Telephone Numbering Plan, Ofcom started the lengthy process of correcting some very old errors for nine area code names in December 2011.
As noted on Ofcom's site, the name changes still have to go through a formal consultation process, even though they are only correcting obvious spelling, hyphenation and capitalisation mistakes.
The corrections are as follows:
|Area Code||Corrected geographic area name|
|Geographic area names with spelling errors|
(before 2003, until 2011)
|01284||Bury St Edmunds||Bury-St-Edmunds [sic]|
In November 2012, local dialling was removed for calls within the 01202 area allowing subscriber numbers beginning 0 or 1 to be issued locally and buying more time before an additional area code or code change is required.
After initial consultation in 2010 and 2012, in April 2013 Ofcom published the final consultation on proposals to re-arrange the 080, 084 and 087 non-geographic allocations in 2014.
The 0870 range is to regain its revenue share status. Where users of 0870 numbers cannot justify revenue share they are advised to move to their reserved matching 0370 number. The workings of the 0845 range will broadly align with how 0844 and 0843 revenue share numbers already work.
Changes in how call costs for 084 and 087 non-geographic calls should in future be communicated to callers were announced. The callers phone line provider has to list a single Access Charge per tariff for the 084, 087, 09 and 118 non-geographic number ranges and the called party has to display the single Service Charge (or "premium") details for their non-geographic number.
Calls to the 'free to caller' 080 range will be made free from mobile telephones, not just from landlines.
Once the final announcements are made by Ofcom in the summer of 2013, the changes will have an 18 month transition period before coming into effect.
Telephone numbers in British Overseas Territories do not come under the UK telephone numbering plan. These calls are treated as international calls. Below are the access codes for the overseas territories: